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Hong Kong lowers
age of consent for gay sex

Hong Kong lowers
age of consent for gay sex

Monday, Hong Kong's government gave in to a challenge to its gay sex laws, lowering the age of consent from 21 to 16. The decision followed a humiliating government defeat in court system after an appeal against a judicial review's decision that the law governing the age of homosexual consent was unconstitutional.

Hong Kong's Security Bureau said in a statement that it would not seek to challenge the court's decision. "After considering all the relevant factors, the government decided not to appeal the judicial review."

Since Hong Kong only decriminalized homosexuality in 1991, gay and lesbian youths had faced life imprisonment if they were caught having sex before the age of 21. Their heterosexual counterparts, however, faced a five-year sentence. In a decision made by the courts in September, the law was rendered unenforceable.

"I fail to see on any basis the justification of this age limit," chief high court judge Geoffrey Ma wrote in his judgment last month. "No evidence has been placed before us to explain why the minimum age requirement for buggery is 21 whereas as far as sexual intercourse between a man and a woman is concerned, the age of consent is only 16."

The case was originally brought to the courts by William Leung, a 21-year-old gay man.

His lawyer, Michael Vidler, hailed the government decision in a statement. "Now they are not appealing it, which means they accept the fact and the court's judgment. It's about time the government initiates steps to remove the law without further delay. Failure to do so will be a slap in the face for the constitution." (The Advocate)

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