B. Acts Outraging Public Decency

It is an offence at common law for a person to do an act or acts which outrage public decency.

The maximum punishment for the offence is 7 years imprisonment. As the offence is a common law offence, there is no specified punishment in any Ordinance in Hong Kong. The maximum punishment of 7 years imprisonment is provided by section 101I of the Criminal Procedure Ordinance (Cap. 221) which sets out the maximum penalty for offences which are not created by a Hong Kong Ordinance.

The offence is intended to prevent the corruption of the mind and the destruction or erosion of values of decency, morality and good order. The focus is upon the defendant’s action and its affect upon members of the public. In considering the affect upon members of the public, the courts apply the standards of right thinking members of the community.

In general, the offence applies to all grossly scandalous behaviour or behaviour that openly outrages indecency or is offensive and disgusting, or is injurious to public morals by tending to corrupt them.

The prosecution must prove that the activity complained of was committed in public. That means the offence must be committed in circumstances where there is a real possibility of members of the public witnessing the act. What is done must be sufficiently lewd, obscene or disgusting to be an outrage to public decency. It is not necessary for the prosecution to prove that persons who witnessed the act were outraged. Though the prosecution can call evidence from persons who witnessed the act, ultimately the question of wheter the act outrages public decency is for the court trying the case.

It is not necessary to prove that the defendant intended to outrage public decency or was reckless whether or not the public would be outraged. It is sufficient for the prosecution to prove the defendant intended to do the act which gives rise to the allegation of outraging pubic decency. Example of this offence includes indecent exposure in public.

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