Sex in our city: Law Reform Commission seeks your views on creating new offenses

Top News | Jane Cheung May 17, 2018
The Law Reform Commission is asking people in a three-month public consultation that started yesterday whether peeping at someone's genitals or a woman's breasts, exposing a sexual organ and having sex with a corpse should be among actions covered by new legislation. There is also a question of whether a law against homosexual intercourse should stay on the books. On peeping, the commission proposes a law against observing or recording in photographs and videos a person exposing their private parts without their consent. Eric Cheung Tat-ming, a member of a commission panel dealing with sex offenses, said the proposed law would criminalize actions such as peeping at a person in a toilet or changing in a store's fitting room. Such actions, he said, are serious violations as the victim would not expect their private parts to be seen by others in such venues. Under existing laws, there is nothing specific about such actions having a sexual purpose. Such activities would see the peeper prosecuted for loitering or being disorderly in a public place. But photographing or filming a person's private parts without permission in such circumstances could be prosecuted. The commission also proposes a new offense of exposing genitals in a sexual manner. Under existing laws, anyone who indecently exposes a private part could be disturbing public order and prosecuted. A conviction could lead to six months in prison or a fine of up to HK$1,000. But the commission notes it is a public order offense, not a sex-based crime. So it proposes a new criminal offense if someone exposing their genitals to another person in a sexual manner. That would be with the intention of obtaining sexual gratification or to humiliate a person, and it could happen in public or private places. People are also being asked whether man-man intercourse should cease to be a crime, with the commission believing homosexual activities should be subjected to the same rules as heterosexual ones. "The principles of gender neutrality and avoidance of distinctions based on sexual orientation should lead to these offences being removed," the commission says. There is also a proposal to enact a law to criminalize sexual activities with a corpse. It is not an offense under existing laws. The commission said families of a deceased person expect a corpse to be treated with respect. On incest, the commission is looking into extending the scope of existing laws to cover adoptive parents and blood relatives such as uncles, aunts, nephews and nieces. Cheung said adoptive parents have the same responsibilities as blood parents, so the commission sees a need for revision.

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January 2019