Group-sex con­vic­tion pro­vokes moral de­bate

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By ZHOU WENT­ING in Shang­hai zhouwent­ing@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

A man who was sen­tenced to five months in jail by a Shang­hai court for or­ga­niz­ing a gay group-sex party for eight has re­newed the na­tion­wide de­bate on whether group sex should be viewed as a moral or crim­i­nal mat­ter.

Shang­hai’s Xuhui Dis­trict Peo­ple’s Court handed down the sen­tence on Tues­day af­ter con­vict­ing the man of group li­cen­tious­ness for or­ga­niz­ing the sex party in a ho­tel room.

Seven other par­tic­i­pants were or­dered to be de­tained for 10 days.

The court with­held the man’s name, but said he was in his 30s and mar­ried. He earned a doc­tor­ate from a pres­ti­gious univer­sity in Shang­hai, the name of which was also with­held.

The man be­gan pub­lish­ing in­for­ma­tion about gay sex par­ties on sev­eral In­ter­net mes­sage groups on QQ, a pop­u­lar mes­sag­ing tool, in early Septem­ber.

He then held video chats with var­i­ous in­di­vid­ual ap­pli­cants and chose seven men to join the party.

He and the par­tic­i­pants ar­rived at the ho­tel room on the af­ter­noon of Sept 7. They watched gay sex movies and had group sex them­selves, play­ing dif­fer­ent roles.

Each of the par­tic­i­pants paid the man 50 yuan ($8.26) for the ho­tel room charge and for or­ga­niz­ing the party.

The po­lice raided the ho­tel room and found all of the men naked.

Most of the men, who ranged in age from 20 to 40, have good jobs and are mar­ried. Two of them trav­eled from other cities to Shang­hai for the sex party, and some ad­mit­ted it was not the first time they had par­tic­i­pated in such ac­tiv­i­ties, the court said.

The case has re­newed de­bate among le­gal ex­perts, with some say­ing the charge of group li­cen­tious­ness — de­fined as three or more peo­ple hav­ing sex to­gether — is in­ap­pro­pri­ate.

“There is no vic­tim in such a case. Vol­un­tary sex in pri­vate, which does not dis­turb so­cial or­der or hurt pub­lic sen­ti­ment, should not be seen as a crime, re­gard­less of whether the par­tic­i­pants are of both gen­ders or the same gen­der,” said Li Yunlong, chair­man of the Crim­i­nol­ogy Re­search Coun­cil in Jiangxi prov­ince.

Li Yinhe, a so­ci­ol­o­gist and sex­ol­o­gist at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences, agreed that such sex­ual be­hav­ior should not be seen as a crime be­cause it con­sti­tutes a free choice by adults — as long as such be­hav­ior oc­curs in pri­vate and is con­sen­sual.

“Ac­tu­ally, it’s not un­heard of for three peo­ple to have sex to­gether,” she said. “It’s kind of un­usual be­cause it goes against the cus­tom of two peo­ple hav­ing sex. But we shouldn’t pun­ish them as crim­i­nals be­cause their con­duct breaks with the norm.”

Other le­gal ex­perts con­sid­ered the pun­ish­ment ap­pro­pri­ate.

“Sex in­volv­ing more than two peo­ple is not in keep­ing with vir­tu­ous so­cial con­ven­tions or with China’s mar­riage law. It’s rea­son­able to fight such be­hav­ior,” said Yi Shenghua, a lawyer at Yingke Law Firm in Bei­jing.

Yi said the gen­eral pub­lic might dis­ap­prove if the crime is writ­ten off.

“There’s no sign that this is go­ing to be changed or abol­ished soon, so peo­ple have to obey the law,” he said.

In May 2010, a col­lege pro­fes­sor in Nan­jing, Jiangsu prov­ince, was sen­tenced to three and a half years in jail for or­ga­niz­ing group-sex par­ties.

The 53-year-old pro­fes­sor, Ma Yao­hai, and 21 oth­ers, in­clud­ing 14 men and eight women, were the first peo­ple in two decades to be con­victed of group li­cen­tious­ness.

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