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Hong Kong: Impartial rule or discrimination?

難道同性戀的傾向是高度傳染的病菌?就連看一看也會受感染?

Is homosexuality a kind of contagious virus? And that by watching it on T.V and one would be infected? — Jovisky

One Jan 20, the Broadcasting Authority (BA) issued a strong advice concerning RTHK’s television programme “Hong Kong Connection”(鏗鏘集). There were very strong reactions from the local blogsphere against BA's advice.

The BA’s explanations were published in the press release:

1. the programme was biased towards homosexuality, promoted homosexuality and contained discriminating elements;
2. it was unsuitable for broadcast at the scheduled time and exerted a bad influence on children and youths;
3. it was unfair to Christians as a whole as the reference to opposition from a Christian in the programme gave viewers a misleading impression that all Christians were irrational;
4. it did not mention the undesirable aspects of homosexuality such as AIDS; and
5. it did not contain a warning caption.

The BA considered that the programme was presented in the form of a documentary and that the contents of the programme about homosexuality and the legalization of homosexual marriage were controversial in many societies including Hong Kong. The programme was therefore a factual programme dealing with matters of public policy or controversial issues of public importance in Hong Kong and should be subject to the impartiality rule under the relevant code. However, the programme presented only the merits of homosexual marriage and featured only the views of three homosexuals on the legislation of homosexual marriage, rendering the presentation unfair, partial and biased towards homosexuality and having the effect of promoting the acceptance of homosexual marriage.

The BA also considered the programme unsuitable for broadcast within the Family View Hours as children and young viewers watching the programme might have no knowledge of homosexuality and might be adversely affected by the partial contents of the programme if parental guidance was not provided.

RTHK was strongly advised to observe more closely paragraph 2 of Chapter 2 (family viewing policy), paragraph 1 of Chapter 7 (likely effects of all material shown on television on children), and paragraphs 2 and 3 of Chapter 9 (impartiality) of the Generic Code of Practice on Television Programme Code.

There were very strong reactions from the local blogsphere on the issue:

Anson comments that under the BA’s logic:

任何人報導不同性傾向人士的應有權益作為基本人權,都是「偏私的」,「不客觀的」,這個,是很恐怖的事。

Anyone who report on sexual minority's rights as human rights would be subjected to the judgment of “bias” and “impartiality”. This is very terrible.

Jovisky rushed to see the programme after she read about the BA advice:

我真搞不懂了,節目內容有些什麼特別?若果主角不是同性戀者而是別的身份,比如是來港要求政治庇護的非洲國家人民,說他們在港生活面對的問題,工作上遇見的困境,又或他追求香港女人而被受白眼…… 如是又可會被投訴節目內容「偏袒」?

I really can’t understand what’s so special about the content of the programme? If the characters were not gay but other identities, such as African asylum seekers, and they talked about the difficulties they were facing in Hong Kong, in their jobs and their love life, etc… would the programme be judged as “impartial”?

Orangutan house said:

明明在介紹印度咖哩,為免報道不公,所以要特別加插一碟鹽焗雞?說到明是《同志.戀人》,不訪問同性戀者,難道找幾個明星唱唱歌,玩玩遊戲?用不是邏輯的邏輯,去為偏見找藉口,真的很醜.

So when someone introduces India curry, in order to avoid impartiality, s/he needs to introduce steamed chicken as well? The programme is about “homosexual lovers”, if they don’t interview homosexuals, are you telling them to invite pop stars to sing songs and play games?

Simon yip criticizes the Christian groups that launched the complaint:

或許這是一個新聞中立的問題,給左派說10分鐘,必先給右派說10分鐘.
但是同性戀跟異性戀從不是對立,從可處可以偏袒同性戀?
大概只是冒犯了基督教的尊貴教義

Perhaps in term of news neutrality, it is better to give 10 mins to the Left and 10 mins to the Right. However, homosexual and heterosexual are not in opposition to each others, so we can’t say it is bias towards homosexual.
Probably, the programme just upset some noble Christian creeds.

As a media worker, Florence worries that the advice is a threat to freedom of speech:

今日話你鼓吹同性戀,明日可以是鼓吹反共。撇開政府又多一個整頓港台的口實,作為傳媒工作者之一,我不免擔心…

Today you said the program promoted homosexuality; tomorrow it can be promotion against communism. Taking aside the incident as another occasion for the government to control and manage RTHK, as a media worker, I am worried…

以廣管局上述裁決的邏輯,曾蔭權是否適合做特首,是否一位有賢能的特首,備受公眾爭議,報道必須持平。但,「特首的一天」只展示特首好的一面,並只講述特首及其身邊人對特首公務的意見,這又是否「使報道內容不公、不完整和偏袒特首曾蔭權,並產生鼓吹接受曾蔭權的效果」?

Extending the BA’s logic, whether Donald Tsang is a suitable candidate for being the Chief Executives, whether he has virtue, is an argumentative issue. Therefore report should be balanced. However, the programme, “a day of Chief Executive” only showed the positive side of the CE, and only reported on the CE’s point of view and people around him, shouldn’t it be viewed as “unfair, partial and biased towards CE and having the effect of promoting the acceptance of Donald Tsang”?

A reader, little rain, posted his / her very long and well written complaint letter to BA at inmediahk.net's comment:

This issue reminds me of the painful fight for racial equality in other countries decades ago. Back then in countries like the US and the South Africa, the majority (the whites) also thought that the discriminatory treatment of the blacks was rightful. People who advocated racial equality were condemned. The voices of the blacks were nowhere to be heard. The change from racial discrimination to racial equality was a long fight.

Changes, as always, are painful. Accepting novel ideas are painful, admitting old views as obsolete and inapplicable are not easy. It takes years of education, and communications is the first step. Sadly speaking, in the past years, Hong Kong has not moved forward in addressing sex orientation discrimination.

Hong Kong takes pride in its ability to embrace diversity, it is very painful to see that in this issue, our regulator who is supposed to be impartial is depriving the society of hearing about voices of the minority. It is painful to see how a regulator can act so brashly upon 22 individual complaints. I do not criticize people who make the complaints, it is absolutely understandable that some individuals are less informed and less familiar about this topic and may find such discussion uncomfortable, what surprised me was the ignorance of the regulator in making this decision.

I am very very disappointed by HKBA’s decision, I strongly believe this is a mistaken one and I urge the Obudsman to investigate thoroughly and to restore justice to RTHK.

4 comments

  • Nigel

    We need RTHK and other open-minded media to help promote tolerance, and the freedom of speech.We need them to educate people, that we are all just human, no matter who or what you are.
    We are all Global citizen, need to respect each other.
    Please make this planet a better place for our future.
    There are bigger issues we need to deal with, like global warming, and wars, nuclear weapons, not about who sleep with who…

  • […] 原文链接:Hong Kong: Impartial rule or discrimination?作者:Oiwan Lam翻译:Joyce校稿:scchiang 难道同性恋倾向是种高度传染的病菌?就连在电视上看一眼也会受感染?—Jovisky […]

  • KT

    Ha! I bet the Evagelical Christians would love the HKBA for this.
    Come to think of it, many Christian and other conservative groups in the US take positions that dwarf the HKBA on this kinds of issues, the only thing is that they do not have ties to the government (at least offically), and it’s only govnernment agencies that come under fire. But if you think such groups are any less influential in the US than the government, think again.

  • […] The case has raised concern from local homosexual and sex rights groups. As it is not the first time conservative religion groups make use of the censorship tool to silent sex talk. […]

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