Hong Kong's High Court on Friday dismissed the government's bid to ban the protest song "Glory to Hong Kong" that was widely used as an anthem for the city's 2019 pro-democracy protests.

In the official judgment, the court stated that while freedom of expression is not absolute in nature, it is still an important right that cannot be legally restricted without meeting requirements of "legal certainty and proportionality."

Last month, the Hong Kong government sought a court order to ban people from broadcasting or distributing the song that was sung as an anthem for the city's 2019 pro-democracy protests, after it was mistakenly played as China's national anthem at several international sporting events in the past year.

Many protesters sang the song, the lyrics of which referred to the "tears and blood" shed by "martyrs" in the fight for freedom and a liberated Hong Kong.

People holding a banner bearing the slogan "Glory to Hong Kong" stage an anti-government march in Hong Kong on Oct. 5, 2019, in protest at the government's enactment of an emergency law banning people from wearing face masks during demonstrations. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

If granted, the ban would have criminalized such acts as broadcasting, performing, printing, publishing, distributing and reproducing the protest song in any way, including online. The ban would also encompass the melody, lyrics and any adaptations of the song.

The court also pointed out Friday that, due to the complicated nature of the injunction, there was a possibility that innocent people would distance themselves from the protest song altogether out of fear of breaking the law, even if the injunction did not include a blanket ban on the anthem, such as for journalistic purposes.

The court concluded that it could not determine that it would be "just and convenient" to grant the injunction, thereby dismissing the government's application.

Chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association Ronson Chan told the press on Friday that he welcomed the judgment, adding that he did not feel there was a need for an injunction as anyone who publicized the anthem would already face charges under the national security law.

Hong Kong leader John Lee had previously asked Google to modify results to display China's national anthem "March of the Volunteers" rather than the protest song when users searched for Hong Kong's national anthem, a request denied by the search engine.

Google reportedly told officials that it would only remove the protest song if a court order was issued.


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Hong Kong seeks injunction to ban 2019 pro-democracy protest song