Hong Kong court rejects government’s injunction to ban pro-democracy protest song

Hong Kong court rejects government’s injunction to ban pro-democracy protest songHong Kong court rejects government’s injunction to ban pro-democracy protest song
Michelle De Pacina
July 28, 2023
The High Court of Hong Kong has rejected a government’s injunction to ban the pro-democracy protest song “Glory to Hong Kong.” 
High Court’s ruling: In Judge Anthony Chan’s ruling, he noted that banning the song undermines freedom of expression and could potentially cause a “chilling effect,” according to Reuters.
“I am unable to see a solid basis for believing that the invocation of the civil jurisdiction can assist in the enforcement of the law in question,” Chan said, adding that the court has a duty to “protect human rights, which included freedom of expression, when acting to safeguard national security.”

It is by no means over-stretched to envisage that perfectly innocent people would distance themselves from what may be lawful acts involving the song for fear of trespassing the injunction which has severe consequences. I cannot be satisfied that it is just and convenient to grant the injunction. This application is accordingly dismissed. 

The court order: The ruling comes as a relief to global tech companies, including Google, which was previously pressured by Hong Kong officials to change “Glory to Hong Kong” to China’s anthem in its search results when users searched for Hong Kong’s national anthem.
Google reportedly refused and told the government to prove that the song violated local laws, prompting the legal move. The government’s court order prompted the song to rise to the top of Apple iTunes’ charts before it was removed from music streaming services and social media platforms.
Last month, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee said the song was “not compatible with national interest.” Lee will reportedly examine the ruling before deciding whether to appeal. 
About the anthem: The unofficial protest anthem became widely known and sung during the 2019 pro-democracy protests
In 2020, the Hong Kong government outlawed the protest slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” due to secessionist and subversive connotations. The protest anthem, which includes parts of the slogan in its lyrics, was also widely banned in the city. 
Celebrating freedom of expression: On the other hand, journalist associations and rights groups celebrated the recent ruling. 
“Today the Hong Kong High Court took a welcome stand and defended free speech. The Hong Kong government should respect the decision and refrain from making further attempts to censor the protest song,” Human Rights Watch’s China director Sophie Richardson told Reuters.
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