34 C
Guwahati
Saturday, June 22, 2024

Hong Kong’s top court rules in favour of recognising same-sex partnerships in a landmark case

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Hong Kong, Sep 5 (AP) Hong Kong’s top court ruled on Tuesday that the government should provide
a framework for recognising same-sex partnerships in a landmark decision for the city’s LGBTQ+
community.
The ruling did not grant full marriage rights to same-sex couples but was a partial victory for
prominent pro-democracy Jimmy Sham, who had fought a five-year legal battle over the recognition
of same-sex marriage registered overseas.
Sham married his husband in New York in 2013, and argued that Hong Kong’s laws, which don’t
recognise foreign same-sex marriage, violate the constitutional right to equality.
Equality advocates said the judgment was a step forward and will have strong implications for the
lives of the LGBTQ+ community and the financial hub’s reputation as an inclusive place to stay and
work.
Judges at the top court, by a majority, declared in a written ruling that the government is in violation
of its positive obligation to establish an alternative framework for legal recognition of same-sex
partnerships, such as registered civil partnerships or civil unions.
“The absence of legal recognition of their relationship is apt to disrupt and demean their private
lives together in ways that constitute arbitrary interference,” Justice Patrick Keane wrote.
The court suspended its declaration for two years to give the government time to comply with its
obligation.
But the judges unanimously dismissed Sham’s final appeal on other grounds related to same-sex
marriage and recognition of overseas same-sex unions.
Currently, Hong Kong only recognizes same-sex marriage for certain purposes such as taxation, civil
service benefits and dependent visas. Many of the government’s concessions were won through
legal challenges in recent years and the city has seen a growing social acceptance toward same-sex
marriage.
Surveys showed 60 per cent of the respondents showed support for same-sex marriage in 2023, up
from 38 per cent in 2013, according to a report issued by researchers at The University of Hong
Kong, The Chinese University of Hong Kong and the University of North Carolina School of Law in
May.
In a previous hearing, Sham’s lawyer Karon Monaghan argued that the absence of same-sex
marriage in Hong Kong sent a message that it’s less worthy of recognition than heterosexual
marriages.
Jerome Yau, a co-founder of non-governmental organisation Hong Kong Marriage Equality, said the
ruling sent a clear signal that same-sex relationships deserve some form of recognition and that it
would help enhance Hong Kong’s reputation.
“This judgement, we believe, will go a long way in attracting young talent coming to Hong Kong to
work and live,” he said.
Hong Kong resident Travis Chow, who has a same-sex partner, said he had wondered about their
future but the judgement prompted him to think seriously about the option of staying in Hong Kong
in the long run.
“This is absolutely happy and encouraging,” he said.
The court decision was an important step for equality for the LGBTQ+ community in Asia, said
gender studies scholar Suen Yiu-tong at the Chinese University. But Suen admitted he was
disappointed that the court did not recognize same-sex marriage.
Sham has been in custody after being charged under a Beijing-imposed national security law
following massive pro-democracy protests in 2019. The law has been used to arrest and silence
many other pro-democracy activists as part of a crackdown on dissent in the former British colony.
Sham is the former convenor of Civil Human Rights Front, which was best known for organizing the
annual protest march on the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to Chinese rule on July 1, 1997,
for years.

The group also organised some of the biggest political protests that roiled the city in 2019 but was
disbanded in 2021 under the shadow of the security law. (AP)

- Advertisement -
The Hills Times
The Hills Timeshttps://thehillstimes.in/
Welcome to The Hills Times, your trusted source for daily news and updates in English from the heart of Assam, India. Since our establishment in 2000, we've been dedicated to providing timely and accurate information to our readers in Diphu and Guwahati. As the first English newspaper in the then undemarcated Karbi Anglong district, we've forged a strong connection with diverse communities and age groups, earning a reputation for being a reliable source of news and insights. In addition to our print edition, we keep pace with the digital age through our website, https://thehillstimes.in, where we diligently update our readers with the latest happenings day by day. Whether it's local events, regional developments, or global news, The Hills Times strives to keep you informed with dedication and integrity. Join us in staying ahead of the curve and exploring the world through our lens.
Latest news
- Advertisement -
Related news
- Advertisement -