William Roy Leung: Hong Kong court appeal

The ICJ welcomes today’s decision of the Hong Kong Court of Appeal in the case of William Roy Leung vs Secretary for Justice.

The Hong Kong Court of Appeal upheld the decision of a lower court that a provision of the Hong Kong Crimes Ordinance (section 118C) was discriminatory based on sexual orientation, as it prohibits consensual male homosexual sex until both parties are above 21 years old. The Court also affirmed that this provision constitutes an arbitrary interference on the right to privacy.

“The decision is a vindication of the right to equality before the law and non discrimination and is consistent with Hong Kong’s obligations under the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, ” said Philip Dayle, Legal Officer at the ICJ.

The Crimes Ordinance criminalizes parties to consensual male homosexual sex even if both participants are over 16 years of age, but one party is under the age of 21. Consensual sex between heterosexual persons who are above the age of 16 is not similarly outlawed. The Court reasoned that, “…section 118C of the Crimes Ordinance significantly affects homosexual men in an adverse way compared with heterosexuals.”

The ICJ offered an exposition of the international human rights and comparative public law analysis in relation to sexual orientation in this matter. This intervention was incorporated in the amicus brief of the Equal Opportunities Commission of Hong Kong and was presented to the court.

Both the decision of the court of appeal and the ICJ arguments in this matter are available on the ICJ website

Hong Kong-Roy court appeal-Press releases-2006 (full text, PDF)

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