The highest court in Hong Kong decriminalised gay public sodomy on Tuesday in a ruling that advocates are calling a victory for China’s gay rights movement.

A panel of five top judges unanimously ruled that two men, who acknowledged engaging in anal sex in a parked car, should not be subject to the country’s maximum penalty of five years in prison.

According to AP, Chief Justice Andrew Li said in the ruling that the law targets homosexuals and “does not criminalise heterosexuals for the same or comparable conduct.”

The case was the first prosecution of the 1991 law.

After the two men challenged the charges, lower courts ruled in their favour, but the government appealed to Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal.

Director of Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, Law Yuk-kai, called the judgment a “key blow” to the existing law and an “important milestone” for gay rights.

He told Hong Kong’s The Standard that the judgment fundamentally questioned the law for being discriminatory against homosexuals, and the appellant could not prove the reason for singling out gays in the ordinance, while the Basic Law guaranteed that everyone shall be equal before the law.

“In future, even though the law remains, the police would find it difficult to apply with the latest ruling,” Mr Law said.

Society for Truth and Light – a conservative Christian group – called the verdict “regrettable” and “disappointing,” saying it has set a “dangerous precedent.”

Choi Chi-sum, general secretary of the group, told The Standard: “What the people are worried about is that indecent acts in public places are inappropriate. It’s not about whether hetero or homo sex is involved. Whoever is involved in such acts should be punished and it shouldn’t become someone’s talisman.”

Anthony Cuesta

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