Nine LGBT-related books have been yanked from the shelves of the annual Hong Kong Book Fair banned after being labeled “indecent.”
The books were pulled on the third day of the book fair, which wraps today, after being declared Class-II materials or “indecent materials” by the somewhat-ominously titled Obscene Articles Tribunal, a team of at least three magistrates culled from the judiciary, HKFP reports.
Taiwanese publisher G Books was participating in the annual book fair for the second time and selling 15 titles from the Taiwan Indie Publishers Alliance stall. The books in question, which included such titles as A Gentleman’s Wedding, Gay Soldier’s Diary, and Crying Girls, had been on sale for the first two days of the book fair before being declared verboten on Saturday.
None contained nudity and all were packaged with warning signs in accordance with Hong Kong law.
G Books was quick to slam the move, saying they were “appalled” by the decision and disappointed that a book fair held in the “Pearl of the Orient” still placed these types of limits on its exhibited content.
In a Facebook post, the publishers slammed the book fair for being “vanilla” and described the event organizers as “possessing a mental age below 18 years”.
According to the official webpage of the Hong Kong Book Fair, all exhibitors can only sell Class I materials under the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance.
But clause 27A under the same ordinance seems to allow leeway for the selling of Class II or “indecent materials.” According to that clause, such materials can, in fact, be sold, provided they are wrapped in opaque packaging and have a visible warning sign. According to the publisher, the books in question were wrapped and warning labels had been affixed.
Coconuts Hong Kong asked the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, the main organizer of the event, for the exact reasoning behind the ban if the books had been appropriately wrapped, but the council replied that exhibitors are only allowed to sell Class I materials and refused to comment on individual cases.
Hong Kong lawmaker Roy Kwong, meanwhile, left a message on G Books’ Facebook page, saying he would contact the development council demanding for an explanation on the issue and encouraging the publisher to continue speaking up for minorities.
The publisher added that some of their books can still be found in the Taiwan Indie Publishers Alliance stall (3G-C16) if you ask the staff for the specific item.
Putting in that extra work isn’t all bad, G Books insist; claiming that it allows readers to experience the rush of fishing for banned items just like so many Taiwanese did during the island’s early years of martial law rule (or like mainland Chinese were still doing until five booksellers got detained).
Subscribe to The Coconuts Podcast for top trending news and pop culture from Southeast Asia and Hong Kong every Friday!