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Hong Kong: Top court to hear trans woman’s final case for marriage

April 15, 2013
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Today Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal will begin hearing the case of a trans woman who wishes to marry her boyfriend, in the last court battle of a legal war she has fought for several years.

The woman, known only as ‘W’, has fought since 2010 to get married to her boyfriend.

Hong Kong’s Registrar of Marriages had ruled that, as her birth certificate still states she is male, she cannot marry a man according to the City’s laws, which do not allow for same-sex marriage.

Her case reached the High Court but was thrown out. She has now taken the matter to the Court of Final Appeal, which will give a definitive ruling.

W is one of a small number of Hong Kong citizens to have undergone gender reassignment surgery. The procedure was deemed medically necessary for her, and was paid for by government funds.

Although her birth certificate cannot be changed she is registered as female on other identity documents.

W wants the courts to recognise that her marriage to her boyfriend would be between two people of opposite genders, making the City’s lack of same-sex marriage laws irrelevant.

She is being represented by top UK human rights lawyer Lord David Pannick in this decisive court hearing.

He said of the case: “The laws of marriage can and should recognise that sexual identity can change. The right to marry is fundamental… the birth certificate is a record of historical facts.”

Earlier this year Lord Pannick spoke at the UK’s parliamentary committee on the same-sex marriage bill, arguing in support for the proposed legislation. He told MPs it would take a “legal miracle” to force churches to perform same-sex weddings.

Judge Robert Ribeiro of the Court of Final Appeal said the case may prove too much for the courts, and speculated it may take new legislation to settle the matter.

Earlier this year Honk Kong lawmakers sparked anger within the LGBT community by refusing to carry out a public consultation on LGBT rights.

More: Asia, birth certificate, cisgender, gender identity, gender reassignment, Hong Kong, human rights law, lord pannick qc, marriage, same sex marriage, Trans, trans marriage, trans rights, trans woman, Transgender

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