A Taiwanese LGBT book publisher has come out against the Hong Kong book fair for banning several of its titles for being “indecent,” despite depicting no nudity or violence.
The book fair has strict regulations against selling any materials that fall under the Class II (indecent) distinction defined in the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance. According to the rules, books or articles can be labeled Class II if they include “violence, depravity [or] repulsiveness.” If an author or publisher knows their work would fall under the Class II label, they’re required to adhere a warning sticker to the front cover and keep the work in a plastic seal.
Despite complying with these requirements, Taiwan’s G Books claimed that nine of its 15 titles set up at the Taiwan Indie Publishers Alliance stall had been removed from the fair by organizers this week, including A Gentleman’s Wedding, Gay Soldier’s Diary and Crying Girls.
“We’ve never been faced with this kind of order in previous exhibitions,” wrote the publisher on Facebook. “We felt extremely stunned.”
“An annual cultural publishing fair in the ’Pearl of the Orient’… does not permit diversity of speech,” the post continued. “Publishers cannot reach their readers in a proud way, without twisting or disguising themselves.”
A G Books spokesperson explained more to the Hong Kong Free Press: “The Book Fair suddenly gave its order on the third day of the fair. We managed to sell the books on the first two days. This is really unreasonable. Some say that a Christian stall nearby filed a complaint against us, but we can’t prove it.”
Organizers refused to comment on the specific situation, but did say that “exhibitors should submit articles concerned to the Obscene Articles Tribunal for classification if necessary.”
The highest court in Taiwan recently ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, setting the country on the course to become the first place in Asia to embrace marriage equality. Just across the South China Sea, the city of Hong Kong continues to stall discussions on marriage equality and refuses to write anti-discrimination protections into law.