The Department of Justice (DOJ) has sought a court order to ban anyone from performing or playing the 2019 protest song Glory to Hong Kong if they have "a seditious intention" or are trying to incite people to commit secession.
The move follows a series of blunders at international sports events where the song was played for the Hong Kong team instead of the national anthem.
If granted, the court order would prohibit people with a seditious intention or those trying to incite secession from "broadcasting, performing, printing, publishing, selling, offering for sale, distributing, disseminating, displaying or reproducing in any way" the song.
It would also outlaw the playing of Glory to Hong Kong in a way that would cause it to be mistaken as the national anthem, or so that it suggests the SAR is "an independent state and has a national anthem of her own".
The order would cover "any adaptation of the song, the melody and/or lyrics of which are substantially the same as the song".
It would also be illegal to assist or knowingly authorise or allow others to commit any of the stipulated acts.
In a statement on Tuesday, the DOJ said the song has been widely circulated since 2019 and its lyrics contain a slogan that has been ruled by the courts as constituting secession.
It said the song has been repeatedly presented as the national anthem by mistake, which has insulted the anthem and caused serious damage to the country and the SAR.
"The HKSAR government respects and values the rights and freedoms protected by the Basic Law (including freedom of speech), but freedom of speech is not absolute. The application pursues the legitimate aim of safeguarding national security and is necessary, reasonable, legitimate, and consistent with the Bill of Rights," a government spokesman said.
"In fact, the injunction complements existing laws and serves to clarify to members of the public that acts mentioned above may constitute criminal offences; they should not take their chances and attempt to break the law."
The government said it was waiting for directions from the courts regarding a hearing date.
"The song itself is not being banned as such. What is being prevented from happening is anybody trying to make use of the song to advance or advocate an infringement of the national security law," Executive Councillor and senior counsel Ronny Tong told RTHK.
On the injunction covering 32 videos of the protest song on YouTube, Tong said: "There's nothing unusual about that. Rather, it's the usual application of the law to cover all sorts of variations, adaptations, and all sorts of different kinds of representation."
Third Side lawmaker Tik Chi-yuen said he's worried the ban will undermine freedom of expression.
"If they have this kind of control, it will make the Hong Kong people feel that there are limitations on freedom of speech, freedom of expression," he said.
Last updated: 2023-06-06 HKT 18:03