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Nudists stage HK’s first nude photo contest

A nudist group is holding what it says is Hong Kong’s first nude photographic competition to test whether attitudes towards the naked human body have changed in the decade since the city returned to Chinese rule.

Simon Cheung, chairman of Body Arts Association, said Monday the competition to mark the 10th anniversary of the handover had received more than 300 entries, with eight awards to be presented for the best photographs.

“We want to see how the Hong Kong public will respond to body arts 10 years since we returned to China. We want to see whether people are more conservative or more open about nudity,” Cheung said.

Cheung had difficulties booking a venue six years ago when he organized a life-drawing contest. He now hopes the competition, to be held on June 16 when the winning photos and all entries will be on display, will be trouble free.

“Some of these pictures show sexual organs. If there aren’t many complaints about it and the feedback is good, I would consider it a success,” he said.

Nudity is still equated with sex in Hong Kong, which is now in some ways more conservative than mainland China, which has already staged nude photographic exhibitions and also has sex shops.

In 1995, the Hong Kong Obscene Articles Tribunal famously classified a newspaper picture of Michelangelo’s statue of David as indecent. The ruling was overturned on appeal.

Cheung contacted nearly 20 people to be judges of the contest and to present the awards, but only four agreed.

“Many of them said they were too busy and some of them told us they found it embarrassing to come because they would be seen as indecent. They want to distance themselves from it; I feel very disappointed about this,” he said.

The Body Arts Association, set up in 2001, has 400 members who hold regular activities and classes, such as yoga, painting, photography, hiking, volleyball and yachting.

Public nudity remains illegal in Hong Kong, despite efforts by the group to have a secluded beach set aside for nudists.

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