Chinese prosecutors have charged 22 swingers who joined a wife-swapping club with criminal licentiousness, a crime that carries a five-year sentence.
The case has stirred fierce debate among lawyers, sex experts and the public over whether the practice really merits a place in the criminal code at a time of calls for greater sexual freedoms and when brothels are found on many streets in the
heart of Beijing.
The mastermind of the club was associate professor Ma Xiaohai, a master of mathematics who worked at an unidentified university in the southern city of Nanjing.
Ma has been under police supervision at his home, taking care of his ageing mother, since August last year when he was arrested after a tipoff to police that he was organising spouse-swapping parties at his home.
Between the summer of 2007 and May last year, a total of 22 people took part in 35 encounters as members of the unofficial club. Ma took part 18 times. Even though he did not have a wife, Ma was accorded special privileges as the organiser.
A college professor accused of organizing a swingers club and holding private orgies in China was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison, officials said.
Ma Yaohai was convicted and sentenced on charges of group licentiousness for participating in group sex parties, said an official.
Ma, along with 21 other people, was arrested and charged last year — the first time anyone has been charged under a 1997 law in a case that has snagged huge public interest with its titillating details. It also generated debate about sexual
freedom in a nation trying to reshape its own modern morality.
Prosecutors had accused Ma, a computer science professor at Nanjing University of Technology, of organizing a swingers club, where members met online and gathered in private homes or hotels for group sex parties.
But Ma had maintained his innocence, arguing that his activities involved consenting adults meeting in nonpublic places.
Ma's attorney Yao Yong'an said his client plans to appeal the verdict.