Hong Kong govt to let lower age of consent ruling for gay men stand
The government of Hong Kong has decided not to appeal a landmark ruling that will effectively lower the homosexual age of consent from 21 to 16. Prior to the law being challenged, men caught engaging in sodomy when either was under 21 faced life imprisonment although heterosexual couples could legally have sex at age 16.
Hong Kong's Security Bureau said in a short statement it would not seek to reverse the court's decision.
"After considering all the relevant factors, the government decided not to appeal the judicial review," it read.
Chief High Court Judge Geoffrey Ma wrote in his judgement at the time, "I fail to see on any basis the justification of this age limit."
"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," he said.
Leung's lawyer hailed the government decision. "Now they are not appealing it, which means they accept the fact and the court's judgement," said Michael Vidler.
"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," Vidler added.
The court's decision in September rendered the law unenforceable and the next step will be for the administration to introduce legislation to remove the provision from the statute book.
Hong Kong decriminalised homosexuality in 1991.
In related news, the Hong Kong government will for the first time sponsor a gay film festival as part of a push to raise awareness of AIDS in the territory. The Health Department's Red Ribbon Centre will provide US$8,000 in sponsorship to the Gay and Lesbian Film and Video Festival, which is to be held over two weeks beginning November 2.
The Health Department has also produced a 30-second advert promoting the use of condoms that will be screened before each film, published AIDS-awareness articles in the festival programme and will distribute condoms to the audience at the 50 films on show during the festival.
In the first six months of 2006, there were 3,000 cases of HIV infection among MSM compared with 2,000 in the whole of last year.
Singapore cable television provider fined US$6,400 for lesbian sex scenes
A Singapore cable television provider has been fined for airing lesbian sex and bondage scenes contained in an American reality TV show, Singapore's media regulator said in a statement on Tuesday. The cable television provider was fined S$10,000 (US$6,410).
The show, "Cheaters," exposes ordinary people whom their partners suspect of having affairs. The episode concerned was aired during the period of 22 to 26 May 2006 and repeated on 29 August 2006.
The statement read: "It contained footages of a woman engaging in lesbian sex acts with another woman. While pixilation was used during the sex scenes, it was still obvious to viewers that the women were naked and engaging in unnatural sex acts. The programme also showed the woman tied to a bed in a bondage session with two other women. The visuals were deemed to be sexually suggestive and offensive to good taste and decency."
StarHub's corporate communications manager Caitlin Fua told The Straits Times that her company was disappointed with the MDA's decision.
"Cheaters" has been aired in such countries as China, India and Indonesia "without any difficulty," she was quoted as saying.
Homosexual acts are illegal in the conservative city-state under Section 377 of the Singapore Penal Code.
Osaka mayor to bless same-sex couples
Gay and lesbians couples in Osaka may soon be invited to the City Hall where they will receive blessings by the Mayor. According to Japanese news site Asashi.com, the move comes as the city plans to revitalise itself.
Once a month, 10 couples will be invited to the city hall, where the mayor will bless the couples with handshakes and greeting cards.
"We will be discussing the plan, but I feel it portrays Osaka's culture of tolerance for diversity", the coordinator commented.
The project team consists of 30 mid level managers chosen from each city government branch. Under five themes such as "transportation improvement" and "marketing Osaka," they came up with 15 specific projects.
The same-sex marriage project fell under the "free use of pre-existing facilities" theme. The plan includes same sex and other couples who cannot legally marry in Japan.