A judge in Hong Kong ruled in favor of the police in a controversial case concerning the disruption of an IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia) event in 2011.
Police disrupted a peaceful anti-homophobia rally on 15 May 2011 when a group began to dance, despite previously issuing a Notice of No Objection to the demonstration. The police claimed the dancing meant the event required an entertainment license.
The action of the police was challenged in court by an individual identified only as ‘T’ who was at the demonstration, during a hearing that started on 4 June.
The hearing came to an end last week with the Honourable Mr Justice Lam ruling that the event did need a public entertainment license because ‘public demonstration and public entertainment are not necessarily mutually exclusive’ and the purpose of the license is for ‘ensuring public safety and public order’.
The organizers of the event, Pink Alliance, said they were ‘disappointed’ with the judgement.
‘We are concerned that such an obscure piece of entertainment legislation may continue to be used to restrict Hong Kong people’s freedom to exercise their right to demonstrate as guaranteed by the Basic Law,’ Pink Alliance chair Reggie Ho told Gay Star News.
‘We maintained that at no point during IDAHO 2011 were there signs of public safety being threatened, not even during the dance segment. The number of police officers deployed to halt the event was disproportional, and the crackdown was heavy-handed and unnecessary. We also question why the police, who were present during the dance rehearsal, waited until the show was officially on to take action if their basis for intervening was the absence of an entertainment license.’
Micheal Vidler of the solicitors representing ‘T’ in the case said that they will appeal the judge’s decision which was based on ‘very scant consideration of the constitutional issues’.
Vidler told Gay Star News that the government are ‘fighting this challenge with all their resources’ and the case will probably ‘go all the way to the court of final appeal’.
Pink Alliance held a successful IDAHO event this year (2012) with no police disruptions.