On May 15, 2011 the police disrupted an International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) demonstration attended by members of Hong Kong's LGBTI community and supporters including a Legislative Counsellor and the Chairperson of the Equal Opportunities Commission, cutting the programme short. Fridae at the time reported that a dance performance (top of page) held during the rally at in the busy commercial district of Causeway Bay came to an end midway after organisers were told by the police that they were not in possession of a permit for the dance performances although organisers say other similar events didn't require one.
Vidler & Co. Solicitors who is representing the man, identified in proceedings only as "T", said in a statement that by challenging the constitutionality of the police action, the applicant is seeking a “declaration from the High Court that his rights of assembly, procession and expression under the Basic Law and the Bill of Rights were infringed.”
In allowing the case to proceed, the Honourable Justice Lam on Feb 7 agreed with Gerard McCoy, Senior Counsel for T, that the Court should hear the case and decide whether a “place of public entertainment” includes an open space area (not being enclosed) where a political demonstration occurs.
In a statement, Vidler & Co. Solicitors further noted: “Despite previously issuing a Notice of No objection to the demonstration taking place, police ostentatiously videoed the peaceful demonstrators from a raised step ladder in what participants claimed was an attempt to intimidate a vulnerable and discriminated section of Hong Kong's community. Up to 20 police then disrupted the demonstration when a group, called the Dancing Angels, began to dance. Threatening organisers with arrest unless the dancing stopped, police cited the Places of Public Entertainment Ordinance, Cap. 172 and claimed that a license should have been obtained as the dancing was 'a performance in a public place'.
“Police controversially used the same Places of Public Entertainment Ordinance to disrupt a peaceful June 4th demonstration at Times Square in 2010, when an order to remove the 'Goddess of Democracy' statue also resulted in a prosecution of the organizer for exhibiting the statue without a license. An appeal in that case is pending.
“The IDAHO Demonstration Case (Reference HCAL 102/2011) will have a bearing on the future policing of peaceful demonstrations in Hong Kong.”
The full hearing will take place in the High Court on April 25, 2012.
Videos of the Dancing Angels and of the event generally are available on TCJM’s website: http://tcjm.org/gallery.