Yesterday saw the start of Hong Kong’s review of their obscenity laws, which haven’t been reviewed before the colony was handed back to China when the UK’s lease ran out in 1997. In the twenty years since the current legislation was made law, the way in which media content is delivered has changed almost beyond recognition.
This apparent inertia amongst HK’s government is doubly surprising as it’s now part of the People’s Republic of China – not a state renowned for it’s tolerance of freedom of information.
So what next for Hong Kong’s citizens?
Well, it’s difficult to say because while in some ways the government there seems to enjoy a certain amount of autonomy I can’t imagine the paternalistic Chinese government in Beijing not wishing to ensure that its values at least influence the final revisions to the law. On the positive side the process is billed by the HK Government as a consultation with interested groups.
The differences in obscenity legislation around the world reflects each country and culture’s espoused cultural, social and religious values. That doesn’t necessarily mean it reflects public opinion, indeed it’s often at variance with what the public want and will never please everyone. Leaving aside extreme pro and anti porn groups even citizens in the middle ground of opinion often feel that legislation over porn doesn’t serve the interest of a country’s citizens – I.E. to protect the vulnerable from porn while making it available to those who wish to consume it, and protecting those involved in its production.
Living in the UK we have a mixture of legislation, some that allows lap dancing clubs to open up almost anywhere, exposing young people to the site of erotic dancing (potentially) near the places they frequent, like schools and high street shops. At the same time it will soon seek to restrict what consenting adults do in private because of the new legislation on “extreme porn”.
We’ll have to wait and see what happens in Hong Kong.