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8 May 2008

'gay lovers' programme did not breach broadcasting guidelines, says hong kong high court

In its judgement handed down today, the Hong Kong High Court said it disagreed with the Broadcasting Authority's earlier ruling that a TV programme that discussed same sex marriage was deemed to have breached broadcasting guidelines for not including anti-gay views.

The Hong Kong High Court has overturned the Broadcasting Authority's ruling that Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) had breached the Generic Code governing their operations for not providing an opposite viewpoint when it aired Hong Kong Connection - Gay Loversin which a gay man and a lesbian couple discussed same-sex marriage and the challenges they face. The programme was aired on TVB Jade Channel on Jul 9, 2006.

In Jan 2007, the Broadcasting Authority ruled that the RTHK-produced programme was "unfair, partial and biased towards homosexuality, and having the effect of promoting the acceptance of homosexual marriage."

The judicial review was sought by one of the documentary's subjects Joseph Cho after the Broadcasting Authority announced its ruling that would in effect require RTHK and all other broadcasters to include the views of the anti-gay lobby in every future documentary programme discussing LGBT issues.

The ruling was a result of complaints from the conservative Christian lobby that had alleged that the programme had discriminated against them by not allowing them to provide a contrary view.

According to a news report on RTHK's website, Justice Michael Hartmann said the authority was discriminatory and had restricted the documentary subjects' freedom of speech in its decision. He further cited bird flu and child slavery as examples of issues that simply did not have an alternate viewpoint.

For an in-depth report about the lead up to the judicial review, please click on the related article link below.

Hong Kong


5. 2008-05-09 04:41  
go us!
6. 2008-05-09 08:11  
Speaking from a media background, the danger/issue of presenting a case, whereby someone pipes up: "But you didn't include US with OUR view in this..." is that you then run the risk of, well, excluding Everyone from being represented in what you're presenting.

Contrary and opposing views are NOT relevant and necessary to informative, documentary or reportage pieces, whether in print, television, or other conventional media outlets. The fact that a programme conveying possible 'pro' homosexual views didn't carry an opposing viewpoint is irrelevant.

Agreeing that the said case should have carried an 'anti' homosexual viewpoint would open a very dangerous floodgate - can you imagine if any 'pro' heterosexual-related programme was suddenly obliged to carry 'anti' heterosexual viewpoints/commentary, for equal balance?

Such a ruling (c)would have had enormous implications, theoretically by the spirit of the law, if not by the letter of the law at least, which is possibly why the ruling was overturned.

Alternatively, perhaps good old common sense - a commodity that is also increasingly rare in the world today - was used...
9. 2008-05-09 11:58  

Hong Kong's legal system is the best:)
10. 2008-05-09 14:31  
Way to go, Hong Kong - there's still justice in the city! Bravo!
11. 2008-05-09 14:36  
The HK high court is open minded with homosexual related matters. If this issue happened in Singapore, the homophobia scale will be definitely at the extreme end, needless to say. Its always the sad ending.
12. 2008-05-09 16:04  
Re: Posting # 6

Rather, you mean, what Some Christian fundamentalists would say, not All Christians. Don't tar everyone with the same brush! My Christian and fairly religious Mum wouldn't watch something condoning homosexuality, and then start muttering: "Well, what a shame the anti-Gay people weren't given the chance to express themselves..."!

Religion, as with politics and other personal viewpoints, brings out extremists/fundamentalists in a small percentage, whereas most people are perfectly sensible, and couldn't care less. Hatred and discrimination runs against the core tenets of Christianity, after all; most Christian leaders all around the world preach tolerance and acceptance, and quite rightly too.

Anyway, just as long as you don't frighten the horses or children (as the old saying goes), people just don't care - Christians, or otherwise...
13. 2008-05-09 17:39  
The Fridae and RTHK reports of the judgement are a bit misleading, and a much clearer explanation of the judge's reasoning and judgement is given by the HK Standard (link at the end of this post).

Amongst other things the judge said that it was "plainly wrong" to believe the TV program Gay Lovers promoted gay marriage. It was a study of the human condition.

"RTHK did no more than faithfully record the fears, hopes, travails and aspirations of a person who happened to be gay," he said. "It did so faithfully, in an unprejudiced manner."

The Broadcasting Authority's misunderstanding of the code resulted in an impermissible restriction on freedom of speech, being founded on the discriminatory factor that homosexuality may be offensive to certain viewers.

See the Standard's report:


15. 2008-05-09 17:50  
BRAVO! at long last..........^0^
17. 2008-05-09 17:58  
Sorry, the link doesn't work from fridae, so just google the story at thestandard.com.hk

All the factors mentioned in my post 9 below I would expect to be relevant, and of persuasive authority, when dealing with the MDA in Singapore.

19. 2008-05-09 18:37  
If you also look at Wikipaedia for "The Society for Truth and Light" (sic), a fundamentalist Christian group in HK (also referred to there as "the moral taliban") it is allegedly responsible for the template complaints resulting in the censure; you will also see that there are allegedly admitted financial links between them and the broadcasting authority there.

They are also allegedly propagating "human rights" educational materials in schools that totally misrepresent the concept of human rights and which are so homophobic that a teacher went on hunger strike in protest.

If these allegations are true, it would be naive to imagine that such people are only operating in Hong Kong.
20. 2008-05-09 19:14  
Well done Siu Cho. Its brave people like him who dare to buck the system that progress is made.

Singapore is always trying to compete with HK in being the best (ie: best financial hub, entrepreneurial spirit, rule of law, efficiency, etc. etc.), but time and again, HK has shown itself to be ahead of us in so many ways.

And interestingly, we both share (more or less) a similar inherited legal code. While HK has progressed, we have regressed. In some ways, we are more Victorian than the Victorians. Our "Asian values" that frowns upon homosexuality is founded on colonial white prudishness that we have inherited like good coloured colonial subjects. And the homophobic Christian fundies are the new generation of Christianising missionaries who bring clothes and civilisation to the heathen masses. Ok, I am going off track here.

But imagine if the Broadcasting Authority's decision was upheld. Then every programme that discusses China's strength, progress, politics, HK's patriotism to China, etc. should also include China bashers. Now I doubt if the CCP would be too keen on that. =)
22. 2008-05-09 19:27  
However in some areas namely gay (and other human) rights, Singapore is in fact happy to be behind others.

"On moral values, on issues of moral values, with consequences to the wider society - first we should also decide what is right for ourselves but secondly, before we are carried away by what other societies do, I think it's wiser for us to observe the impact of radical departures from traditional norms on early movers. These are changes which have very long lead times before the impact works through, before you see whether it's wise, unwise, is this positive, does it help you to adapt better, does it lead to a more successful, happier, more harmonious society?

"So we will let others take the lead, we will stay one step behind the frontline of change; watch how things work out elsewhere before we make any irrevocable moves."

23. 2008-05-09 20:45  
Kellen - Maybe the captain of the Titanic said something similar. Meanwhile the crew and passengers are all jumping ship.

Anyway, what time frame is he talking here? You're already 75 years behind Denmark and 41 years behind the UK. If 377A were repealed tomorrow, it would still probably take another 20-30 years to get to the point where gay partnerships were being seriously considered in SG.

24. 2008-05-09 23:46  
If the ruling was upheld, then whenever a heterosexual documentary is plan, gays views of heterosexual marriages needs to be included to present their opinions.

How does that sounds to the heteros? Fair ?

Congrats Siu Cho. A giant leap for gay rights
25. 2008-05-11 11:47  
Supportive articles on gayhood from Thailand's Bangkok Post. Proof that the "red dot's" economic success does not ensure that the people are really smart, at least not the conservative majority.

27. 2008-05-11 12:03  
I do not agree with Kellen. Like what scampy say, "when HK progress, we regress". How could Singapore stay ahead when we are playing 'catch up' all the time? It is true that sometimes, we need to be careful and watch the impact of what others do before making the same change. But homosexuals have never been a problem in cities where the law liberates homosexuality. Section 377A was left by the British and it is so outdated. With the existence of this penal code, we are saying that the majority straights are the ones who decide how the gays should live their lives or to some extreme, we should not exist at all. Our fates are in the hands of the law makers, the judges, the police, prosecutors, etc. Along the line, there are always decision makers who hate gays and will take every opportunity to slam the penal code against us. How long should we wait Kellen?
28. 2008-05-11 17:22  
In the late 1970s, when Deng Siao Ping visited Singapore. LKY asked him about the time which China needs in order to achieve a significant change. Mr. Deng said 30 years ... it is from birth till contribution to society .... a whole new generation needs to be educated in order to achieve changes as the older generation's mindset cannot be changed.

Do we need a whole generation of 30 years to achieve this change of mindset ??
30. 2008-05-12 15:10  

From Kellen's tone of writing it seems that she's refering to HK v.s SG in an ironic sense-
while HK is moving forward, we in SG stepping backwards. Funny thing is, SG always fancied herself the winner :p
31. 2008-05-12 15:41  
It is not what I said. I'm quoting PM Lee who was responding to the Parliamentary debate last year. Please read carefully.
32. 2008-05-12 16:30  
The judgement is now available online (see below). It could be printed out and sent by anyone and everyone to the MDA. The reasoning is applicable to SG, with the addition that it follows that the part of the SG code dealing with gay content would itself be discriminatory and illegal.

Link here:


33. 2008-05-12 18:29  
Opps sorry Kellen, I mean what Scampy says.
Thks for pointing it out =)



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