Backlash at police in fetish case
Police were criticised last night over the failed prosecution of the Fetish Fashion party, with critics warning their action would force participants further underground and damage Hong Kong's image as a cosmopolitan and liberal city.
Concern groups and experts also called for discussion and public education on bondage, discipline and sadomasochism (BDSM), which they said was a sub-culture that was too easily misunderstood.
Dr Ng Man-lun, professor of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Hong Kong, questioned whether it was appropriate to interfere and charge people involved in BDSM activities. He said there were many types of consensual adult activities that might result in serious bodily injuries or even death, including boxing and football.
'As long as the adults know and enjoy what they are doing, it is none of anyone else's business,' Dr Ng said. 'These are consensual adult activities and the government should not interfere.'
A spokesman for gay rights group Rainbow Action, Tommy Chen Noel, objected to the police's high-profile raid on the Fetish Fashion shop and said such suppression could drive the participants of BDSM activities into an 'underground sub-culture'. 'It is totally wrong to launch an attack on S and M activities. There will be no exchange of information or any open discussion. People are even discouraged to share their experiences,' he said.
Fetish Fashion had previously advertised parties in its shop in Central and on its Web site.
Mr Chen said he knew of one incident in Hong Kong in which someone had died of suffocation as a result of taking part in BDSM activities, and he warned that ignorance could put more lives in danger.
He said many people in Hong Kong held misconceptions and were biased against BDSM, which, he said, did not necessarily involve violence. 'BDSM is not an abuse, nor use of violence. It's built on mutual trust,' he said.
'You hit your partner but do not hurt each other. You care for each other's feelings.'
He also warned against eroding the multicultural characteristics of Hong Kong.
Dr Ng said the level of danger would be increased if more BDSM parties were forced underground.
'If they conduct the activities surreptitiously, that will be harmful,' he said. 'We are also losing our multicultural characteristics and stifling the creativity of our society,' Dr Ng said. The executive director of the Catholic Marriage Advisory Council, Peter Ho Man-hong, said he also had reservations about criminalising BDSM activities.
Public education and open discussion should be encouraged, he said.