This article explores the legal boundaries between obscenity/indecency and eroticism/nudity in art, specifically the consideration of artistic values under the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance, the legislative framework that governs the control of obscene and indecent articles in Hong Kong. It considers the application of the law in practice by reviewing notable cases involving the Obscene Articles Tribunal, the judicial body that decides on what is or is not obscene or indecent. The article suggests that there is a general lack of understanding of the laws on obscenity and those newspaper commentaries of the cases tend to be one-sided and do not help further understanding of the laws in this area. This article seeks to highlight the problem with obscenity laws and challenges the notion of a community standard of obscenity. It concludes with some suggestions on how conflicts involving controversial works of art might be better resolved without the involvement of the court.
Keywords: eroticism, nudity, obscenity