Sex and relationships

When it comes to sex expos, live and let live

Hong Kong’s first adult-only carnival, held at the Central Harbourfront, drew criticism from politicians and religious groups. But as an open and tolerant city, there should be room for such events

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 April, 2018, 4:36am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 April, 2018, 4:36am

When it comes to sex, Hong Kong, even as a free and open city, shows its ultra-conservative nature. That seemed to be the case when the city held what is said to be its first adult-only carnival. As soon as the organiser rolled out the red carpet for visitors to the Central Harbourfront Event Space, some politicians and religious groups expressed outrage. 

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That some quarters in society are still conservative about sex is just a fact. Even though the event, called 18+ Central, was held in enclosed tents and was strictly restricted to adults, some people still objected to it as a matter of principle. The event, they said, would tarnish our image, making Hong Kong appear to be a sleazy city. Some also took issue with the location, saying the waterfront was a place for families.

Still, the number of complaints received by the organiser and various government departments was small. While the criticism should not come as a surprise, it does not square with our image as an open and tolerant society. The carnival featured a host of erotica, including male strippers, pole dancers, female Japanese porn stars, and exhibitions with sexual content. There were reports saying that some artworks had to be covered up, while some programmes were modified or cancelled because of alleged public pressure. 

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Many places overseas host sex festivals. For instance, the erotica fair held in London each year attracts tens of thousands of visitors. Just as prominent is the Sexpo in Australia. First held in Melbourne in 1995, it now tours around major cities and has become one of the biggest fairs in the country.

The reputation of these cities does not seem to have suffered as a result. 

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Sex expos have also been held in Hong Kong before, although they were not as prominent as those elsewhere in the world. While such events may not be to everyone’s liking, their presence reflects the city’s character and sophistication.

If the location is deemed unsuitable for such events, room should be found elsewhere. What sets Hong Kong apart from the region is our tolerance, pluralism and openness. An outright ban would make a mockery of our claim to be Asia’s world city.