Law may now be biased against heterosexuals

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 August, 2005, 12:00am

A new issue of discrimination - this time against heterosexuals - may have been raised in Wednesday's landmark court judgment overturning four provisions outlawing all forms of sex between men aged under 21.

Legal experts said yesterday that while the ruling set the age of consent for anal sex at 16 for males, a man who performed anal sex on a woman below 21 could still be prosecuted. There were also predictions that the government could appeal against the ruling and a complex set of legal amendments lay ahead if it was upheld.

William Leung, a 20-year-old homosexual, sought a judicial review of the law regarding the act of buggery between men but not between a man and a woman.

'Now it has become discrimination against the heterosexual,' said Eric Cheung Tat-ming, associate professor of law at the University of Hong Kong.

Lawyer Albert Luk Wai-hung said there was 'a very big chance' the Department of Justice would appeal and if the judgment was upheld 'it will involve a very complicated process of law amendments'.

'What seemed to be fair on one side may be unfair to the other; [one could] say men are the ones who pay the price while women are out of the penalising scheme.'

Gay-rights activists hailed the ruling but many callers to radio talk shows spoke out against it.

At least two Chinese-language newspapers urged the government to appeal against the ruling, while five others called for a careful balance of law and social morality.