Video showing sex toys on 90-inch screen facing busy Hong Kong street ruled indecent

Owner of sex shop says he respects panel’s decision; he earlier stopped playing the video and instead produced a ‘more normal’ version

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 August, 2017, 8:15pm
UPDATED : Friday, 11 August, 2017, 1:41am

A video demonstrating the use of different sex toys on a 90-inch screen facing a busy Wan Chai footbridge was formally classified as indecent by the Obscene Articles Tribunal on Thursday.

The review upheld an interim classification made in April after five members of the specialist court unanimously found the 22-minute video was not suitable for those under the age of 18.

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Store founder Oleg Vasilyev said after the hearing that the news was unexpected but he would respect the court ruling.

“I agree with the logic, but how does it apply to selling condoms in 7-Eleven and ParknShop and erection pills directly used for sex?” the Russian asked presiding magistrate Lambert Lee. “The same logic should apply to other products.”

The magistrate replied that products such as condoms were traditional contraceptives which parents and teachers expected minors to learn about, unlike the sex toys in the current case.

The court heard the video under scrutiny contained an introduction, promotion and demonstration of the use of different toys for men and women, with various close-up shots, computer animation and English subtitles. It was played on a screen measuring six by 4-1/2- feet facing the major footbridge connecting Wan Chai MTR station and Immigration Tower.

It came to the tribunal’s attention on April 27 when the director of film, newspaper and article administration submitted the video for classification. It was subsequently categorised as indecent.

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Among the factors considered were standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable members of the community, the dominant effect of the article, the possible audience and the purpose of the article.

“Although these sex products may bring about satisfaction and benefits to single or married male and female adults, parents and guardians in general expect young persons under the age of 18 to acquire traditional sexual knowledge and accept the traditional concept of sex,” the magistrate said.

“The article was played publicly without any coverage as if nothing was wrong. This had a dominant effect as a whole which was indeed embarrassing or even repulsive.”

Lee also noted there were shopping centres, restaurants and entertainment and recreational facilities nearby, in addition to schools and the city’s main exhibition centre, and people of all ages walking along the footbridge would be able to see it.

“The ultimate purpose of the promotion of the products is merely to make profits and it serves absolutely no educational purpose,” he continued. “It cannot be rendered acceptable.”

Vasilyev has since produced a new video, which he said was “more normal”, advertising costumes for sale at his four-year-old business, Take Toys.

“I’ll just be more careful with what I advertise,” he said.

His initial video has not been running since the interim classification. But passers-by on the footbridge continued to pay attention to his conspicuous red shop sign below the empty screen.

College student Tang Chun-pang, 20, said he did not think the video should be banned for indecency.

“As an adult toy shop, its target is improving sales, just the same as other underwear brands which also post very open-minded advertisements,” he said. “It’s quite normal as an advertising means in this day and age.”

He also did not think the video would harm teenagers’ physical and psychological development, as teenagers and children needed sex education.

“So parents should take the responsibility to explain it to their children,” Tang said.

“But it’s also understandable that the older generations who are conservative are worried as a lot of teenagers passed by to the Ani-Com and Games fair days before,” he added.

Marco Wong, 20, said the video included products and a female model in sexy underwear.

“Even though the video has been stopped, you can still see people curiously peeping at where it was,” Wong said. “But it’s not necessarily a bad thing.”