[JURIST] The Hong Kong Court of Appeal [official backgrounder] Wednesday upheld [judgment text] a 2005 ruling [JURIST report] that laws prohibiting gay sex are unconstitutional and discriminatory and violate Hong Kong's Basic Law [text and background] and the Bill of Rights [text]. The law in the former British colony, now a Special Administrative Region [HK government website] of the People's Republic of China, authorizes life sentences for men under 21 who engage in sodomy, while heterosexual and lesbian relationships are legal after the age of 16 and their sexual activity prior to age 16 only calls for a 5-year maximum jail sentence. Chief High Court Judge Geoffrey Ma ruled Wednesday that there was no justification for the different age limit for homosexual men.
The case was brought by 21-year-old Billy Leung whose lawyer called the court's decision "good news for equal rights." Homosexuality in Hong Kong [JURIST news archive] was only decriminalized in 1991 and the Hong Kong government has been criticized for challenging the 2005 ruling. AFP has more.