HK court rejects ‘Long Hair’ Leung Kwok-hung’s bid for final appeal over having trademark locks cut in jail

23-Jan-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:00 AM Print This Post

A former Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmaker best known for his trademark long hair failed to win the court’s blessing on Tuesday in his bid to lodge a final appeal against the public prison operator for cutting his locks in jail.

The Court of Appeal refused to allow “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung to take his case to the Court of Final Appeal. The lower appellate court had previously ruled against Leung and in favour of the Correctional Service Department in the first appeal lodged by the latter.

Despite this setback, Leung can still go directly to the Court of Final Appeal to ask for permission to lodge his case, which could affect a long-established aspect of male prisoners’ rights.

In turning down Leung’s application, the Court of Appeal on Tuesday ruled that while the outcome of this bid might be far-reaching affecting about 8,000 prisoners in Hong Kong’s 29 detention facilities the issue in question, however, was not as important as it appeared to be.

“The distinction in male and female haircut restrictions do not have so great an impact on the inmates so as to give rise to questions of great general or public importance per se,” appeal court vice-president Justice Johnson Lam Man-hon wrote in a judgment on behalf of fellow appeal judges Jeremy Poon Shiu-chor and Aarif Barma.

Lam also noted that in prison, freedom of inmates was often curtailed, and the current restrictions aligned “with the conventional standards of appearance of male and female in the society”.

Speaking outside court, Leung reiterated the significance of his case: “If you [are allowed to] discriminate against a portion of people, in the end everyone will face discrimination.”

He said the government should not be allowed to take away the rights of the minority for the sake of administrative convenience or based on its prejudices.

Leung cited the government’s recent raising of the age limit for elderly comprehensive social security assistance (CSSA) from 60 to 65, saying that in a way this was another type of discrimination.

He vowed to press ahead with his case at the Court of Final Appeal.

The former legislator’s legal bid was inspired by the time he spent in jail in 2014 after he was sentenced to a four-month term for criminal damage and disorderly behaviour at a political forum in 2011.

Leung, who was still a lawmaker at the time, stormed the forum with others when government officials were proposing a new arrangement to scrap Legislative Council by-elections.

While female prisoners were not required to cut their hair, Leung was made to when serving his sentence. The experience prompted the activist to argue that the treatment was discriminatory and violated the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, the city’s Bill of Rights and its mini-constitution, the Basic Law.

‘Long Hair’ sues jailers for making him ‘Short Hair’

Leung won in 2017 when the case was heard by the Court of First Instance. But the Court of Appeal overturned that decision on the government’s appeal in April last year, promoting Leung to take it to the top court.

The former lawmaker was disqualified from Legco over an invalid oath in 2016.


Category: Hong Kong

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