China court hears homosexual prostitution case
A bar owner in the eastern China province of Jiangsu has been brought to court for hiring male prostitutes for homosexual customers.
The People's Court of Qinhuai District in the province's capital of Nanjing found that Li Ning, who runs the "Zhengqi Bar" in a downtown area of Nanjing, hired young men as prostitutes to work at his bar from January to August last year, and pocketed more than 100,000 yuan (US$12,050) of profit.
Li, 33, is a homosexual himself, and was a shareholder in the "Hongdu Bar" in downtown Nanjing, which was closed by local police in 1999 for staging erotic shows.
In January 2003, Li, disturbed by his declining business, began to introduce male prostitutes to his homosexual customers.
In street posters and recruitment advertising in local newspapers, Li said he was looking for handsome young men to work as public relations clerks, the court found.
Li soon recruited a group of 18- and 19-year-olds, most of whom were heterosexuals but accepted the job. Li charged them a deposit of 300 yuan each, but most of them were able to earn at least 200 yuan a day.
Li was arrested in August, 2003, right when his business started to boom, but was released for a while because local police could not decide whether the prevalent criminal law applied to Li's case, as it did not have a specific clause on whether organizers of homosexual prostitution should be punished, or how.
The case was reported to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top lawmaking body, and its legal affairs committee ruled in October that Li should be prosecuted, because all mercenary sex acts, whether they were between homosexuals or heterosexuals, were against the law.
In line with Chinese laws protecting citizens' privacy, the court hearing of Li's case was a closed one, and court officials have not disclosed any information about it.
Wang Zhiming, another organizer of male prostitution, was sentenced to three years in prison and fined 3,000 yuan by a Shanghai court in July 2003, according to an earlier report in the Nanjing Daily.