Group sex and the Cultural Revolution - a translation

Li Yinhe leading the charge (Wikipedia)

In her latest blog post, sexologist and activist Li Yinhe writes that the crime of "group licentiousness" is the last draconian law left over from the Cultural Revolution. The posting protests the recent decision by a Nanjing court to put away Ma Yaohai, a public university professor and private swinger, for three and half years.

The last draconian law

by Li Yinhe

Yesterday, because of the "swinger" verdict in Nanjing – Ma Yaohai was sentenced to 3.5 years – the phone interviews poured in uninterrupted. In the past thirty years, this has been the only case in which "partner-swapping" was prosecuted as a crime.

Currently, Chinese laws regarding sex can be divided into two different categories and six clauses. The two categories are those that directly harm people and those that don't. Rape, molesting young girls, and sexually assaulting women are the three sexual crimes with a victim. Group licentiousness, prostitution, and obscene products [pornography] are the three victimless sexual crimes. In my opinion, the laws covering sexual crimes with a victim have only a few problems. In contrast, there are many problems with the the laws covering victimless sexual crimes, the biggest problem being the the "crime" of "group licentiousness."

After the Cultural Revolution ended, we were left with many draconian laws that had to be reformed or removed. Basically all of these laws were repealed, and out of chaos came order. In 1997, newly created criminal laws finally did away with the crimes of “hooliganism" and being "counter-revolutionary." This change largely improved the state of human rights in China, making it so citizens could no longer be punished for voluntary speech and behavior that didn't harm other people. Citizens' public and private lives became a lot safer than in the past, when they were punished at the slightest pretext. Since the change, citizens' understanding of their civic rights has also increased.

The crime of "group licentiousness" is the last draconian law left to us from the Cultural Revolution. It was originally a sub-clause under the crime of hooliganism. Thirty years ago, these "swinging" cases were handled with extreme harshness. The principal offender would get the death penalty and accomplices would get 15 years to life. The crime of hooliganism was not just leveled on people who engaged in group sexual behavior, but also included any type of extra-marital sexual behavior (the classic case was a female punished for having sex with multiple men). In 1997, after "hooliganism" was done away with, extra-marital relations were no longer considered a crime, but three or more people having sex still is. Such is the behavior that "group licentiousness" laws seek to punish.

The case of Ma Yaohai fully exposes how absurd and out-dated the crime of "group licentiousness" is. No matter how much it offends social customs, the private, voluntary, victimless behavior of citizens should not suffer the control or punishment of the state. Such is the public consensus. In our country that's rushing down the road of modernization, it's so obvious how primitive, backwards, and barbaric this law is! China is already no longer that barbaric backward country where everyone used to yank each others' ponytails [symbolizing a mistake that can be used against you]! We must work hard together to change this last draconian law and cut away this ugly ponytail!

Our objectives are: First, to support Ma Yaohai's appeal to change the verdict to "not guilty." Second, to call on the relevant departments to quickly investigate and abolish the crime of "group licentiousness."

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