Police face challenge over rally dance halt

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 December, 2011, 12:00am


A 20-year-old man who took part in a gay rights march earlier this year has filed an application for a judicial review of police actions after he and others were stopped from dancing during the rally.

The rally was organised on Sunday, May 15, by Amnesty International and an alliance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex groups to mark International Day Against Homophobia on the following Tuesday.

The rally was held in a pedestrian area of Lockhart Road, Causeway Bay, and attended by Equal Opportunities Commission chairman Lam Woon-kwong, lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan and about 100 participants.

The plaintiff, identified only as T in court documents, has asked the High Court, through his solicitors, Vidler & Co, to rule that the police action was unlawful and a breach of his rights under the Basic Law. The Commissioner of Police has been named as the proposed respondent.

According to the documents, part of the rally involved dancing and artistic expression in which about 18 volunteers took part; they danced and chanted slogans to air their grievances. Police stopped the performance after five minutes because organisers had not obtained a licence under the Places of Public Entertainment Ordinance.

T was told by a representative of one of the organisers that police had threatened to arrest them if the segment did not stop, the filing says.

T's lawyer, Michael Vidler, said his client was launching the challenge to clarify the law regarding peaceful demonstration and to stop the police misusing obscure regulations to harass peaceful demonstrations.

'My client has launched this case to defend his rights, and those of all Hong Kong citizens, to freedom of expression and our right to peacefully demonstrate,' he said.

The event, he added, was a peaceful rally whose participants the police had tried to intimidate.

The filing also claims that, as a result of the police actions, the right of T and other participants to express their grievances about discrimination had been restricted.

T argues the segment in question was not entertainment, but an expression of the grievances suffered by members of the homosexual, bisexual, transgender and intersex community.

The performance was followed by a story-telling segment which police did not stop.

T said the rally's location was not a place of public entertainment within the meaning of the ordinance.

Alternatively, he argues the ordinance breaches the right to freedom expression and freedom of assembly.

T is a volunteer at the Tongzhi Community Joint Meeting, one of the co-hosts of the rally, the court filing says. He became aware he was homosexual around 2003.