Hong Kong’s LGBT community has earned a long-awaited legal victory, with a court abolishing or revising seven offences that criminalised sex between men.
The High Court on Thursday ruled that four criminal offences were unconstitutional and repealed them with immediate effect. The court also revised its interpretations of three offences, deciding in favour of Yeung Chu-wing, an LGBT activist who brought the lawsuit against the government in 2017.
The seven offences under challenge – all part of the Crimes Ordinance – made homosexual men criminally liable for acts that are legal for heterosexuals and, in some cases, lesbians.
Mr Justice Thomas Au Hing-cheung, in the language of the court, abolished the crimes of “procuring others to commit homosexual buggery” and “gross indecency with or by a man under 16”. He also overturned “gross indecency by a man with a man otherwise than in private” and “procuring gross indecency by a man with a man”.
Au also changed the interpretation of three other crimes, ruling that they must now apply to women as well as men to be constitutional.
The three offences that now apply to both genders are “homosexual buggery with or by a man under 16”, “gross indecency by a man with a male mentally incapacitated person”, and “permitting a young person to resort to or be on a premises or vessel for intercourse, prostitution, buggery or homosexual acts”.
Tommy Noel Chen, founder of Rainbow Action, a local LGBT rights group, said his organisation had been trying to get these laws changed for more than 20 years. “This judicial review should not have happened in the first place,” Chen said. “But every time we fought for [changes to these law], the government either refused or delayed.”
During the trial, however, the secretary for justice conceded to nearly all the changes. Read more via South China Morning Post