26 people arrested for “immoral and indecent” actions based on an archaic 18th century British law in the Hong Kong SM-club “Fetish Fashion”, are released and acquitted because the international accepted principles for safe, sane and consensual SM was followed.
– This is an important victory for the right of fetish/transvestic and SM people to freely organize, be educated and socialized about safe sex and safe SM practices, says Svein Skeid in the European Fetish/SM project Revisef65.org.
The Hong Kong police are strongly criticized after the more than one year long process against consenting private sadomasochists, that may have costed the taxpayers over $4 million Hong Kong Dollars or more than half a million american dollars. – Suppression of the fetish/SM minority can force people underground, ruin safer SM education and damage Hong Kong’s image as a cosmopolitan and liberal city, experts say.
26 people were arrested on August 12 2001 in an undercover police operation infiltrating two parties at the gay/straigth SM club Fetish Fashion in Hong Kong. 23 of them were released without charge and exactly one year later Hong Kong Western Court also acquitted the three owners because all the activities were “consensual role-playing between adults who were SM adherents to whom no harm came.”
– Just like in the british Spanner process, the police try to close down educational SM-clubs to stop identity-creating work and information about safe SM practices, says Svein Skeid in the European Fetish/SM project. The Hong Kong verdict is in line with the official british Law Commission saying that SM or sadomasochism, short of causing serious or permanently disabling injury, should be no crime between consenting adults, he says.
The former high school teacher, mother-of-two and owner of the premises, Brenda Scofield, also known as Decima (picture), was together with her American husband Laurence and shop manager Loretta Mui Shuk-han, charged with keeping a “disorderly house”, a rarely used 250 years old law also used against the willing and enthusiastic consenting gay leather friends in the british Spanner Case.
The Fetish Fashion trial led to world-wide protests and support from SM groups and human rights organizations. The idealistic and unprofitable establishment received several hundred thousand dollars from individuals and groups both local and international to pay for the expenses of the defence. Malcolm Golding, a local Hong Kong artist, donated a collection of his paintings to the defence fund.
The police raid also sparked Hong Kong’s first sadomasochistic march organized by the independent lesbian and gay rights group “Rainbow Action” (picture right above).
Teaching safe SM
After the court’s final decision Mrs Scofield said to the South China Morning Post, that she would keep running the shop to teach people to practise SM safely. Fetish Fashion, which also organized parties for transvestites, followed the basic world wide SM principles “safe, sane and consensual”.
Both club members and the police testified in the court that the owner Brenda Scofield taught people safe SM practises including safe spanking and safe bondage techniques.
– The atmosphere of the parties was “friendly, welcoming and passionate”, a 41 year-old Chines businesswoman told the court, adding that she had never seen anyone injured at the parties. This was also confirmed by two undercover police officers visiting the fetish fashion shop on August 8 2001. Scofield introduced them to SM equipment and repeatedly told them they would be guided on how to use the equipment and no one would force them if they did not wish to use it.