Date
17 October 2018
Leung Kwok-hung was forced to cut his hair (inset) during his 2014 incarceration. He sued CSD, alleging sex discrimnation.Photos: HKEJ, Facebook/Leung Kwok-hung
Leung Kwok-hung was forced to cut his hair (inset) during his 2014 incarceration. He sued CSD, alleging sex discrimnation.Photos: HKEJ, Facebook/Leung Kwok-hung

‘Long Hair’ wins judicial review on inmate compulsory haircut

Lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung has won a judicial review against the Correctional Services Department (CSD) for sexual discrimination after he was forced to have his hair cut during his incarceration in 2014, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Leung was jailed at the Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre in June 2014 after he was convicted on charges including criminal damage. He was forced to have his hair cut for health and cleanliness reasons.

Leung, widely known as “Long Hair”, filed a judicial review on the grounds of sexual discrimination under Article 25 of the Basic Law.

High Court Judge Justice Thomas Au said despite the verdict, he would allow time for the CSD to make up measures until June 1, including the possibility of imposing hair cut on inmates from both sexes.

Leung said he pressed the lawsuit because sexual discrimination is clearly prohibited under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance or Article 25 of the Basic Law.

While male inmates had no choice but to cut their hair, female inmates were protected from the practice, he said.

The CSD argued that the different treatment of male and female prisoners was not based on gender but on statistics that male inmates are more prone to violence.

Inmates with long hair will also tend to be easier targets for others, or even pose a danger to others if they hide weapons in their hair, it said.

It urged the High Court to consider the difference in these settings.

Leung’s lawyer said that all discrimination cases do not need to look at the motive for discriminating and that the explanations by CSD had nothing to do with their original argument of health and cleanliness.

He said the difference in treatment was clearly based on sex and added that when setting regulations they should be careful not to be restricted by gender stereotyping in order to treat both sexes fairly.

CSD said it will look for a solution that will address the needs of inmates in terms safety and religious beliefs, as well as psychological and physical health.

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