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Hong Kong: From Censorship Debate to Critique of Christian Right

The debate over censorship of indecency in Hong Kong sparkled by the consultation on the Control of Obscene and Indecent Article Ordinance (COIAO) has developed into a critique of religious /Christian Right politics as the conservative Christians openly demand the extension of COIAO for censoring “speech” or “article” that “instigates and advocates” abortion, prostitution, criminal act and terrorism, etc.

A pamphlet circulated among conservative Christian groups in Hong Kong askes all Christians to support a stricter definition of “offensive” and “obscene” articles by signing up for an one person one letter petition:

• 含有兒童或年青人部份或全裸的影像
• 以性為目的,提倡或支持
• 剝削兒童或年青人;
• 使用暴力或強迫他人參加或忍受性行為、罔顧他人生命;
• 與死人發生性行為;
• 用尿液或排泄物貶低及侮辱人,又或讓人聯想到性行為;
• 人獸交;
• 教唆他人墮胎或小產。
• 提倡或鼓勵犯罪行為或恐怖主義;
• 一些貶低自然或違反人性地對待身體的行為。
• 本人認為嫖妓指南、色情場所、光碟及網頁介紹的資訊及廣告,應列為第二類不雅。

- article that contain partial or full nudity of children and youth
– article with sex as its main theme, support or promote sex
– exploit children or youth
– article that contains sexual violence or forces others to participate in sexual act, regardless of the threat to their lives.
– sexual act with dead body
– article that contains urine or feces that humiliate others or draws association with sexual act.
– sex with animal
– article that instigates abortion or miscarriage
– article that advocates or encourages criminal act or terrorism
– article that depicts acts against nature and humanity on ones’ body
– information and advertisement on prostitution, brothels and pornographic websites and DVDs should be classified as indecent.

The pamphlet can be downloaded from holynet in pdf (zh).

It is not about Child Protection

Martinoei points out the mis-information spread by the Christian right and their extreme position that threatens human rights and free speech in Hong Kong. First of all, he points out that with regard to Child pornography, there is another set of ordinance, Prevention of Child Pornography Ordinance. (Cap. 579), that gives full protection to youth and children in Hong Kong. The groups misinform their believers with the pamphlet as if such ordinance does not exist in order to mobilize them to support other agenda, including anti-abortion, anti-homosexuality and legislation for sedition law:

如果教唆他人墮胎或小產,等於淫褻物品,亦等於香港就墮胎問題進行進一步立法,禁止就墮胎合法化進行討論,小弟反對墮胎,但不代表支持禁絕有關討論。香港社會,並未就這個問題作出仔細討論,請這眾原教旨主義分子,不要玩騎劫,這是黐線,這亦證明這幫人支持政府,根本是立心不良,存心要打擊某些議題的討論。

If instigation of abortion or miscarriage is defined as “obscene article”, that means Hong Kong has to further legislate against abortion and even ban the discussion of the legalization of abortion. I am against abortion, but it doesn't mean that I oppose the discussion on abortion. In Hong Kong, we haven't had such discussion before, the fundamentalists are trying to hijack the consultation, this is crazy and it also proves that they are not helping the government, but to repress others from talking about issues that they don't like.

小弟想問何謂「一些貶低自然或違反人性地對待身體的行為」?以小弟所知,馬來西亞政府老屈安華雞姦,那條罪名正是不自然性行為罪(馬來西亞刑事法典377B條),我想問,明光社中人是否打算重新提出同性戀刑事化法案?

What is the meaning of “acts that against nature or humanity onto one's body”? I know that in Malaysia, the government use “Sodomy” to attack Anwar, the ordinance that they applied is “against nature behavior” (Malaysia Criminal act 3222B). I want to ask if the Truelight people (a Christian right group) is trying to push for the criminalization of homosexuality?

「提倡或鼓勵犯罪行為或恐怖主義」這項建議,根本已經觸及《基本法》23條範疇,何謂「犯罪行為」,在《基本法》23條提述罪行中,包括煽動叛亂,是不是有人打算借《淫褻及不雅物品管制條例》,真的要把煽動叛亂罪進行成文立法

The suggestion of “advocating or encouraging criminal act or terrorism” resembles the intention of article 23 in the Basic law. The meaning of criminal act has been specified in the Basic Law article 23 as including sedition act. It seems that someone is using the COIAO for pushing through the sedition law.

Instigation of fear among paranoid parent

Apart from the pamphlet and one person one letter petition, the conservatives also uses manga to spread their idea by depicting a world without COIAO.

Charles Mok criticizes the highly misleading the simplified tactics of the conservatives, especially in generating anxiety and fear for the paranoid parent. The blogger also quotes Obama's speech in the Youth Ball to criticize the conservatives’ imagination of our future generation:

奧巴馬就職夜,在為年輕人而設的青年舞會 (Youth Ball) 中說:「新的一代激勵之前的一代,美國改變就是這樣出現的。」

During the Obama inauguration night, he speaks in the youth ball that “A new generation inspired a previous generation and that's how change happens in Amercia”.

不過,在香港,《淫褻及不雅物品管制條例》的檢討諮詢,保護「心智未成熟的青少年」卻成了焦點,意見愈趨激化,失去了理性討論空間。保守宗教組織群起要求加強管制,卻被指是少數組織化身多個團體以壟斷辯論空間,目的再非檢討條例是否能用作反映社會價值觀,而是變為爭取自己價值觀被官方當為社會整體價值的運動。

However, in Hong Kong, in the COIAO consultation, the protection of “immature youth” becomes the focus of the debate and the opinion has become very extreme and irrational. Conservative religious organizations demand further control, however, the media found out that they are in fact a small minority who speak under various organizations’ hats in order to monopolize the voices being heard. Their objective is not to review whether the ordinance can genuinely reflect our social value, but to promote their own value as the officially recognized social value.


Bedtime bible stories against Christian right

The irrational discussion has invited some spoofing acts, one of those is the “bedtime bible story series” produced by truthbible.net (the network had launched a complain bible action back in 2007). The first video is story about the incest relation between Lot and his two daughters in Genesis 19, 30-38: the destruction of Sodom city. The video had been removed by youtube many times because of complaints and now rated as adult video (without adult content but some Christians may feel offensive):

The group then produced another “bedtime bible story” criticizing some conservative Christians’ violence to stop oppositional voices from speaking out:

History of Christian Right in Hong Kong

Apart from the COIAO consultation, the recent discussion over the amendment of domestic violence ordinance for inclusion of homosexual couple is also charged with the Christian right wing politics. The war between Christian rights and liberal in Hong Kong is very much related with the politics in the U.S. Anto from inmediahk.net traces the cultural war back to the political background of reunification of Hong Kong to China in 1997:

香港這幾年來急劇冒升的「宗教右派」現象,也是一種有意識、有計劃地展現為一種對性和性問題不成比例的干預和政治化的結果。保守主義者和親建制力量,試圖借取美國「宗教右派」的經驗,重新鞏固香港回歸後一度鬆散的政治和文化秩序。所以,一系列性問題突然在2003七一大遊行之後相繼爆發,實在並非偶然現象。但由於這種「宗教右派」政治的外借和異邦(alien)性質,港版「宗教右派」對有關問題的炒作和介入,每每給社會一個無事生非的印象。

(Similar to the cultural war in the U.S) the rise of religious right in Hong Kong in recent year is a conscious and well-planned project manifested itself through the politicization of sex and sex-related issue. Conservatives and pro-establishment borrow the U.S Christian right experience to consolidate the political and cultural order in Hong Kong after 1997. This is the reason why after 2003 July 1 rally, a series of sex-related debate emerged. This is not a coincidence. However, because of the “alien” and “borrowed” nature of the religious right, their intervention in Hong Kong gives people an totally absurd impression.

香港宗教右派今次如此得意忘形地,開展他們自視為捍衛家庭制度的「聖戰」,並非香港真的出現了來勢洶洶的「同性婚姻」立法。相反地,爭端的起因更多地,是與過去數年他們刻意培育的數隻棋子,羽翼漸豐,在新一屆立法會要爭取出頭立功有關。

而為了這些頭頂信仰使命光環的新型政治人物進入權力建制,基督教教會圈子,在過去數年做了大量工夫,重新詮釋教義和社會實踐傳統:從過去對政治冷淡,轉為對政治、權力,及進入建制更為熱衷和積極;又把長期以來基督教主張宗教遠離政治,或以宗教批判政治的原則,扭轉為宗教要依靠政治,宗教理想透過政治實現的新取向。而在政治價值的選擇上,基督教的主流教會,也從過去事事以人權原則為先,靠近民主和直選訴求,轉為以性問題的政治化為骨幹,日漸淘空對人權原則的守持,什至論說宗教信條要凌駕人權之上。

This time the religious right are overjoyed with their holy war for defending the family system out of the odd. We don't have any movement on the legislation of homosexual marriage. The real issue at stake is that the few politicians that have been nourished by the right wing groups, have successfully entered the Legislative council, and they are so eager to show their value and power.

In order to prepare for the new type of politicians to enter the political establishment, the Christian circle has done a huge amount of work to re-inteprete the Christian teaching and social practice tradition: from apolitical to be actively engagement with power and politics; from the detachment with politics or critical principle to depending on politics as a mean for their religious goal. In the choice of political value, mainstream church has shifted from human rights and democracy principle to politicization of sex related issue. Recently they have placed religious principle on top of human rights principle.

I have also written an article at inmediahk.net tracing the development of Christian right movement in Hong Kong back to the shifting of colonial British church tradition to U.S right wing politics. Even though Hong Kong is not a Christian society, our education and social service sectors are controlled by Christian related groups because of our colonial history. Hoidick supplemented my points by providing a simple statistic on the religion background of school in a district in Taipo in the comment section. He finds out that among the 23 secondary schools in Taipo, 11 of them are Christian schools.

At the same time, there is a school letter circulating on the internet showing that some Christian schools have demanded their students to ask their parents to sign up for supporting the conservative definition of indecent and obscene article in the COIAO. Lee Yuiwah criticizes the schools for giving pressure to the students and parents on the consultation.

Online anti-censorship campaigns

On the liberal front, an advocacy group for gay and lesbian community, Lestudy, has set up a website for launching a letter petition, with a list of options, on the COIAO consultation. While in the facebook, several groups have been set up to campaign against the further extension of the COIAO and against the conservative Christian's mobilization, including Campaign against conservative Christian hegemony; Campaign against Carmel Holy Word Secondary School's letter to the parent; Self-defence group against internet article 23; Save the Internet, Fighting for Internet Freedom!

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