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Hong Kong's top court rules that law against sodomy in public is discriminatory

The Associated Press (AP통신)                                         Published: July 17, 2007



HONG KONG: Hong Kong's top court rejected a ban Tuesday on gay sodomy in public, in a second victory for the territory's gay rights movement against laws they say discriminate against homosexuals.

The case stemmed from the prosecution of two men who acknowledged committing sodomy in a private car parked on a dark and isolated road at night, according to the ruling. Public gay sex is currently a criminal offense in Hong Kong and carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail.

The two men challenged the charges against them.

Lower courts ruled in their favor, but the government appealed to Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal.

A panel of five judges in the top court unanimously dismissed the government's appeal.
Chief Justice Andrew Li said in the ruling that the law targets homosexuals and "does not criminalize heterosexuals for the same or comparable conduct."

The case was the first such prosecution since the law was enacted in 1991.

Earlier, a 20-year-old Hong Kong gay man successfully challenged another law that punishes men under 21 who engage in gay sodomy by up to life imprisonment. The consensual age for heterosexual intercourse in Hong Kong is 16.

A local judge ruled in 2005 that the law infringed on the rights of privacy and equality for gay men.

The Hong Kong government also unsuccessfully appealed that ruling.

Now that the ban of public gay sodomy and the higher consensual age for gay sex have been struck down in court, such restrictions are technically unenforceable, but lawmakers still need to remove them from Hong Kong's laws, lawyers say.

Gay activist Cho Man-kit welcomed Tuesday's ruling as a victory for gay rights.

"The government has no way to avoid amending the law now that the court has ruled unanimously against it," he said.


* 차돌바우님에 의해서 게시물 복사되었습니다 (2008-10-20 11:32)
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