Menu

InstagramTwitterYouTubeFacebookSnapchat
Globe Icon
Join and support LGBT+ journalism

Join

and support
LGBT+ journalism

Current Affairs

British lesbian wins right to live and work with her wife in Hong Kong

Josh Jackman July 4, 2018
Participants carry a large flag as they take part in a Gay Pride procession in Hong Kong on November 10, 2012. As anti-discrimination laws continues to expand globally, the participant marched to promote equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT). AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty

A British lesbian has attained legal recognition of her marriage from Hong Kong’s top court in a landmark case.

Hong Kong’s government and courts had previously refused to recognise the civil partnership which a lesbian couple known only as SS and QT attained in Britain.

SS would have been allowed to bring a husband on a spousal visa, but because same-sex unions are not recognised under Hong Kong law, immigration authorities in the former British colony have repeatedly rejected QT’s spousal visa application.

Participants carry a large flag as they take part in a Gay Pride procession in Hong Kong on November 10, 2012.  As anti-discrimination laws continues to expand globally, the participant marched to promote equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT).  AFP PHOTO / Philippe Lopez        (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
QT was not allowed to work in Hong Kong and had to leave her wife every six months (PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty)

As a consequence, QT was not allowed to work in the territory and had to leave her wife every six months.

QT has been supported by 31 major banks and law firms, as well as Amnesty International, many of which have sought to advocate for her directly in the case.

The couple has been embroiled in legal conflict over the issue since 2014, when QT sued Hong Kong’s immigration director for denying her a spousal visa.

Pedestrians walk outside the Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong on July 4, 2018. - A British lesbian won the right to live and work in Hong Kong with her partner in a landmark decision on July 4 by the top court in the city, where same-sex unions are not recognised. (Photo by VIVEK PRAKASH / AFP)        (Photo credit should read VIVEK PRAKASH/AFP/Getty Images)
The Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong on the day of the ruling (VIVEK PRAKASH/AFP/Getty)

She lost in the lower court, with Mr Justice Thomas Au Hing-cheung at the High Court ruling that the concept of “spouse” in other countries is not necessarily valid in Hong Kong, where it is defined as being between a man and woman.

The Court of Appeal unanimously found in QT’s favour last year, overturning the previous ruling.

All three judges agreed that the immigration department has “failed to justify the indirect discrimination on account of sexual orientation that QT suffers.

LGBT Pride in Hong Kong. (AARON TAM/AFP/Getty Images)
LGBT Pride in Hong Kong (AARON TAM/AFP/Getty)

“Times have changed and an increasing number of people are no longer prepared to accept the status quo without critical thought,” they added.

Despite Hong Kong not having yet legalised same-sex marriage, the judges said that “immigration, by definition, requires one to consider not only the local, but also the relevant overseas situation.”

The decision coincidentally happened on the same day that Hong Kong officially started accepting blood donations from gay men.

A security guard stands at an entrance to the Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong on July 4, 2018. - A British lesbian won the right to live and work in Hong Kong with her partner in a landmark decision on July 4 by the top court in the city, where same-sex unions are not recognised. (Photo by VIVEK PRAKASH / AFP)        (Photo credit should read VIVEK PRAKASH/AFP/Getty Images)
Same-sex marriage is not yet legal in Hong Kong (VIVEK PRAKASH/AFP/Getty)

However, that ruling was challenged and the case was taken to Hong Kong’s top court.

The latest decision comes after a report revealed yesterday (July 3) that the majority of people in Hong Kong support same-sex marriage.

According to the new research, published by the Centre for Comparative and Public Law, 50.4 percent of Hong Kong residents surveyed in 2017 “expressed agreement” with gay couples tying the knot.

People take part in the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) parade in Hong Kong on November 6, 2015. Hong Kong's streets were coloured by rainbow flags as protesters marched in the city's annual gay pride parade to call for equality and same-sex marriage. AFP PHOTO / ISAAC LAWRENCE (Photo credit should read Isaac Lawrence/AFP/Getty Images)
Banks and law firms threw their support behind the couple (Isaac Lawrence/AFP/Getty)

This marked a significant shift in public opinion, with just 38 percent of people in Hong Kong supporting the right of same-sex couples to marry in 2013.

Encouragingly, 69 percent of people in Hong Kong also said there should be a law to protect citizens from discrimination based on sexual orientation – up from 58 percent in 2013.

More: Asia, Asia, court, Hong Kong, Law, lesbian, same-sex couple, World

Click to comment

Swipe sideways to view more posts!

Dismiss

Loading ...

Close icon