Last edited: June 12, 2004

Hong Kong Rejects Consent Reform

The Data Lounge, July 25, 2002

HONG KONG—A group of gay civil rights activists in Hong Kong lodged a formal complaint with the territory’s equal opportunities commission, charging Hong Kong sodomy and consent laws violate equal protection rights.

"There are people who fall victim to this law every year," the Reuters news agency quotes 28-year-old Tommy Chen, who said several friends and acquaintances have been arrested on the consent statutes.

Hong Kong can imprison a man for life for having intercourse with another male who is under 21. The law has no such prohibition against having sex with women under the age of 21, Chen said. "Such discrimination is so obvious, but the government still refuses to amend the laws."

The government said there is no need for change, citing tradition and what authorities euphemistically call "local circumstance."

"Despite a lower age of consent for homosexual intercourse in some other countries ... it would be inappropriate for Hong Kong to follow other countries without due regard to the local circumstances," the Home Affairs Bureau said in a statement.

The bureau said that the law is intended to keep young men from being "corrupted" by predatory older men until they are mature enough to make such decisions on their own. Officials said, too, the law prevents younger men from blackmailing older sex partners.

"They may fall prey to blackmail by the younger male person," the bureau said in a statement.

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