Views aired on obscenity law

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 January, 2009, 12:00am

Conservative church and parent groups swarmed into the Legislative Council yesterday calling for tighter controls on obscene and indecent material before a four-month consultation ends next week.

The information technology and broadcasting panel meeting attracted representatives of more than 50 groups keen to air their views on the obscenity review.

Most said they were worried about the effects on teenagers of pornographic images and videos.

The meeting yesterday was in stark contrast to one on the same topic in November, when representatives of more than 30 groups - covering children's rights, homosexuality, sex education and information technology - attacked review proposals - notably an idea to require internet service providers to block access by children to websites featuring pornographic material. They said they feared that it would curb the flow of information.

Tung Kok-leung, organiser of Hong Kong Parents Voice, said society should ensure that children and teenagers were protected from harmful material, as they were by food safety laws. 'You wouldn't let your kids ingest melamine, even a trace, because you know it will harm them,' he said. 'It is the same with obscene material as we don't want our next generation to have corrupted values.'

Reverend Lawrence Lee, chancellor of the Catholic diocese of Hong Kong, said most developed countries had laws to protect teenagers from obscene material.

'Individual freedoms are not unlimited and they must be in line with social benefits,' he said, adding that a more specific classification system was required.

But the chairman of the Film Critics Society, Cheung Wai-hung, argued that definitions of obscene and indecent varied over time and children should be taught to distinguish, instead of bringing in more laws.

Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah said the review should not try to regulate moral standards, rather it should focus on a mechanism which aimed to define society's general moral standards.