• Mon
  • Jul 14, 2014
  • Updated: 7:10pm
NewsHong Kong
SOCIETY

Adultery website attacked as threat to Hong Kong family life

Ashley Madison dating platform caters for married people with a wandering eye

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 August, 2013, 10:49am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 August, 2013, 11:22pm

The founder of a dating agency promoting extra-marital affairs has rejected criticism that it could lead to “broken families” in Hong Kong.

Ashley Madison, a website aimed at married individuals with a wandering eye, has had global success in nearly 30 countries worldwide. It now aims to expand into the Chinese market when it arrives in Hong Kong at the end of the month.

It has already made inroads into Asia after its successful launch in Japan - where a million members signed up within its first two months of operation.

However, the cheats’ charter now faces some opposition from angry church groups and family value organisations in Hong Kong. They say the company’s promotion of adultery is unethical and immoral.

Reverend Lawrence Lee, the Chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong, told the South China Morning Post the website would be harmful to the family as a social institution.

“Without trying to moralise, [the website founder] is treating something as serious as marriage very casually,” he said.

“Family life and fidelity in marriage are essential for the well-being of our society. If you weaken that foundation it is harmful to society.“

Lee also criticised Ashley Madison founder and chief executive Noel Biderman for his comments on creating a dating platform for people looking to commit adultery.

“If students were addicted to drugs - would you promote the sale and access to them more easily? Of course not. It is not a justification.

“I don’t see anything good coming out of this.”

Mayte Yeung Kit Wah of religious group The Society for Truth and Light said extra-marital affairs “should not be encouraged”.

“Not only will it lead to the unforgettable damage in marriage by which trust and commitment will be destroyed, it will also jeopardise the relationship between spouses and also with their children,” she said.

“Broken families have become a major family problem in western societies and gradually in Hong Kong and the cost is always borne by society as a whole.

“As we believe marriage should be a commitment for a couple to be faithful to each other, it is not ethical and moral for a commercial entity to launch a website to encourage extra-marital affairs through dating.”

Anton Wan, general secretary of the Family Value Foundation Hong Kong, told the Post that couples in Hong Kong “should pay special attention to the overwhelming temptations of affairs from the cyber world”.

“The potential harm of this kind of dating website to the permanence of marriage is obvious without doubt. Even in Hong Kong where an extra-marital affair is not itself a criminal offence, it may have legal results, particularly in cases of divorce.

“This is a good opportunity for Hong Kong couples to be alarmed now by knowing [about] this website’s launch, in order to revisit the marital relationship with their spouse as soon as possible.”

Chan Wing Kai, executive director of social services of the Hong Kong Council of the Church of Christ in China, said the website was “not good for Hong Kong society and people”.

“What we believe in is close marriage between men and women. So of course I do not think it is a good idea to have a website like that and promote it in Hong Kong,” he said.

“We cannot tell people not to visit the website - but our belief is it is not the right thing to do.”

Ashley Madison founder and chief executive Noel Biderman rejected the criticism. He argued that while every country considered itself conservative or religious, people around the world “share the same DNA – and monogamy is not part of it”.

“People had affairs in every country before Ashley Madison arrived. But they had them in the workplace or within their circle of friends – which is much more destructive,” he said.

“We don’t want to convince anyone to cheat, but we can tell them how to have the perfect affair. And that means not only finding the perfect partner, but also not getting caught.

“The church or religion was not able to stop infidelity in the last hundreds of years and instead of pointing a finger and blaming people our religious and spiritual leaders should come from a place of understanding and empathy.”

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This article is now closed to comments

Dai Muff
... because no one ever had affairs in Hong Kong before this website opens for business.
tranquilben
most dating websites are scams. this is probably one of it. no harm to society, just to the male morons paying for nothing.
HK-Lover
Why are the churches so worried? Are they afraid that their own club members won't follow their club rules (read: bible) and use the Ashley Madison's services ? Well, you can preach anything you want to your own club members but leave the ones who are not members of your club to their own decisions and that's here in Asia probably the majority of the society .
Maybe your own managers (priests) have already signed up so they don't need to molest young and innocent children anymore. Stones and glass house - remember ?
tranquilben
on second thought, shame on ME for paying SCMP to be a PR company. SHAME ON ME!
daily
It's a personal choice if someone wants to enlist the services of the website, so why should it be deemed as immoral or a threat to family life.............nobody is forcing anyone to do anything they don't already want to in the first place.
blue
HK Gov't should keep its hands off. If there is no market demand for this website, then the problem will solve itself.
chaz_hen
I think gambling has broken its share of families in HK as well. Cheating...or at least having a second wife is an accepted and not-so-discreet fact that is indisputably woven into Chinese culture anyway.
getgavin
After calling it immoral, the chancellor says "without trying to moralise" - and then compares it to illegal drug use - really?
m2leung
It might work in Hong Kong. It won't work in China. You don't need to be discreet and take 2nd and 3rd wives there as long as you pay your monthly allowances to your wives on time.
yellow_lynx_cat
Most broken families are not caused by adultery... the relationship is already broken before the adultery happens....

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