Stricter obscenity standards 'won't hurt major publishers'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 February, 2008, 12:00am

A stricter standard for classifications by the Obscene Articles Tribunal will not affect mass publication of erotic material but might kill some creative ideas on sex education, a tribunal adjudicator said yesterday.

The classification system has been challenged after the tribunal ruled last Wednesday that photos of celebrities engaged in sex acts with sensitive areas blanked out published in two magazines were neither obscene nor indecent.

Speaking at the City Forum yesterday, adjudicator Amy Yuen Siu-man said there were no written guidelines on how to classify a case as indecent or obscene. The thing they considered was the effect of an article on society.

She said that some people had demanded stricter standards in light of the nude-photo saga, but she did not think that this would deter the media from publishing explicit pictures.

'Big corporations can afford to handle the lawsuits with a pack of lawyers,' Ms Yuen said.

'This means only small creative works would be punished under a stricter system.'

She said some organisations that had 'untraditional' ways of teaching sex education might be affected.

A prostitutes' support group, Zi Teng, had published a magazine that discussed need-to-know topics for what it described as sexually conservative Hongkongers.

Another adjudicator, Society for Truth and Light secretary general Choi Chi-sum, said the penalties for publishing obscene or indecent articles should be heavier.

He suggested the fines be linked to the sales volume of the obscene or indecent articles.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups is promoting a 'green' internet programme to stop more nude pictures being spread online.

Group executive director Rosanna Wong Yick-ming said teenagers should protect themselves and obey the law when using the Net.

About 100 primary and secondary schools are backing the programme to get youths to sign a pledge to use the internet 'healthily and safely'.

Actor-singer Edison Chen Koon-hei has admitted taking pictures of female celebrities engaging in sex acts with him. His lawyers have warned that further publication of the images would be a breach of copyright.