A Hong Kong equality watchdog has said transgender people should have their legal status recognised without gender surgery.
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has urged the territory’s government to change the law on this issue.
The status of transgender people should be recognised as long as they have made a “statutory declaration that he or she intends to live permanently in his or her affirmed gender”, the commission has said..
While LGBT activists demand a change in the law, local Christian leaders remain resistant.
They have proposed changes to facilities and social policies instead, for example, gender-neutral toilets.
The proposed step towards equality comes after thousands marched for LGBT equality in Hong Kong in November.
The EOC published its findings on Tuesday, finding that “comprehensive gender recognition legislation” was necessary.
The government “should not be [consulting] on whether a gender recognition scheme should be introduced in Hong Kong but rather what kind of gender recognition scheme should be adopted”, said EOC chairperson Alfred Chan Cheung-ming.
The commission wants the Hong Kong Government to move away from the emphasis on medical procedures determining gender, and instead rely on “statutory declaration[s]”.
This move is in line with international developments and gives hope to LGBT activists who want Hong Kong to follow in Britain’s footsteps of adopting a Gender Recognition Act.
“A gender recognition scheme [is needed] as soon as possible”, Chan Cheung-ming said.
This is despite the autonomous region officially being part of China, which has a terrible LGBT rights record.
The EOC proposal contrasts the recent decision in the region to cancel Christmas mass for the LGBT community after a Bishop spoke about gay “sinfulness”.
Hong Kong’s Government received over 15,000 responses to its public consultation on transgender legal recognition last year.
A similar transgender rights review in Great Britain has been delayed by the Government after right-wing press backlash.
The consultation in Hong Kong was prompted by a 2013 case of a transgender woman who was given the right to marry her boyfriend.
However, this ruling only applies to people who have undergone gender surgery.
Transgender people’s legal status is still unclear in the region.