Hong Kong court rejects censure of gay program

Source: The Standard (Hong Kong)
9 May 2008

Judge rejects censure of gay program
by Nickkita Lau

A High Court judge yesterday described the Broadcasting Authority’s censure of an RTHK program on homosexuality as “an impermissible restriction on freedom of speech.”

In ordering the authority to quash its official reprimand, Michael Hartmann said it was “plainly wrong” to believe the TV program Gay Lover promoted gay marriage.

“It is now recognized in our law that the prohibition against discrimination on the basis of sex refers not only to gender but also to sexual orientation,” the judge said.

As Hartmann viewed it, the 2006 program in which judicial review applicant Cho Man-chit – along with his gay partner and a lesbian couple – had featured was a study of the human condition.

The authority, after receiving a number of complaints, concluded the show failed to be impartial as it did not present opinions of those against gay marriage.

The judge rejected that argument, saying impartiality could be interpreted in a different way.

“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.”

Hartmann was surprised that all programs dealing with controversial issues are required by the authority’s code of practice to be impartial, pointing to issues such as the fight against bird flu and child slavery. He said the Broadcasting Authority’s misunderstanding of the code resulted in a restriction on freedom of speech, being founded on the discriminatory factor that homosexuality may be offensive to certain viewers.

But the judge did support the authority’s contention that the program should have been shown after 8.30pm. It was shown during family viewing hours at 7.35pm and 7.10pm on the Jade and Pearl channels.

The authority had argued in a letter that children and young viewers watching the program might have no knowledge of homosexuality and be adversely affected by its partial contents if parental guidance was not provided.


1 Response to “Hong Kong court rejects censure of gay program”

  1. 1 Hong Kong court rejects censure of gay program | Bird Flu Cases Monitor Trackback on 10 May 2008 at 5:12 am

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