British lesbian wins right to live and work with her wife in Hong Kong
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.
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.
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.
“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.
However, that ruling was challenged and the case was taken to Hong Kong’s top court.
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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.
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.