A recent Hong Kong survey has found that three out of four locals support more rights for gay people in the region, although only 27 per cent completely agreed that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.

According to researchers from the University of Hong Kong, the results show that the debate for legal protections for same-sex couples was not an “all or nothing” case.

Kelley Loper from HKU’s Centre for Comparative and Public Law, said: “There is not strong public support for same-sex marriage but there are other policy options that are available which still move things forward for them.

“These other rights are particularly salient for same-sex and heterosexual couples and have resonance in Hong Kong but also around the world.

“For example, if your partner got ill, you would want to be able to visit them in hospital.”

The survey took a random sample of 410 people aged over 18, with 98 per cent of interviews conducted in Cantonese and the remainder in English.

Three out of four respondents said they supported granting same-sex couples equal rights, including hospital visits during hours designated for family members, protection from housing discrimination, the right to sue and claim compensation in the case of wrongful death, and the right to inherit property in the case of their partner’s death.

A spokesperson for the Equal Opportunities Commission said: “We are encouraged to see that a large majority of people in Hong Kong support conferring rights on committed same-sex couples as for heterosexual couples.”

In November, Hong Kong released new figures showing a “record-breaking” number of HIV infections, with gay men still highest at risk of contracting the disease this past year.