A lesbian woman has won the final battle in a years long legal war against Hong Kong’s Immigration Department.
Today, the Court of Final Appeal ruled in favor of a British lesbian, known only as QT, who wanted the same visa rights as heterosexual couples.
‘Today’s ruling by the Court of Final Appeal affirms what millions of us in this wonderful and vibrant city know to be true, that discrimination based on sexual orientation… is offensive and demeaning – it offends against Hong Kong’s core values and undermines the rule of law,’ QT said after the ruling in one of her first public statements.
QT had been in a long running battle with Hong Kong authorities as she fought to get a dependant visa.
QT married her partner in a UK civil partnership years ago. Shortly after their wedding, QT’s partner was offered a job in Hong Kong in 2011.
But when QT tried to get a dependent visa to move over with her wife, the Hong Kong Immigration Department denied her one. It denied the visa because Hong Kong does not recognize same-sex relationships.
That meant QT had to live there on a tourist visa and denied the right to work. The couple were also denied the same rights as heterosexual couples. Some of those rights include; getting permanent residency or receiving subsidized public hospital services.
QT won a historic case in September, 2017 in the lower appeal court. That court ruled in favor of the couple’s British civil partnership being recognized in Hong Kong for a dependant visa.
But a short time after that ruling, the government appealed against the decision. The Court of Final Appeal started hearing the new appeal in June.
The court’s decision
In the unanimous ruling, the Court agreed that denying QT a dependent visa was unconstitutional.
Hong Kong is an international city which relies heavily on expatriate workers.
Many people argued same-sex couples should get the same rights so Hong Kong could attract the best talent.
Betty Grisoni moved there from France in 2002 and is the co-director annual Pride event, Pink Dot.
Grisoni moved to Hong Kong after her partner got a job there. She told Gay Star News how stressful her early days there were.
‘Our relationship was not recognized at the time and me not having a visa created lots of stress and uncertainty,’ Grisoni said.
‘With the result of the QT case, same-sex legally married couple can have the same rights as their different sex counterpart.
‘This is an amazing leap for Hong Kong’s LGBTQ+ rights. The city is finally moving towards been the ‘world city’ it claims to be.’
Hong Kong’s first gay lawmaker is ‘elated’
The island’s first openly gay legislator, Ray Chan, exclusively told Gay Star News he was over the moon about the court’s ruling.
‘The LGBT community, with myself included, is elated today over the Court of Final Appeal’s judgement today. It is a milestone in the history of LGBT equality in Hong Kong,’ he said.
‘This decision will change the lives of many Hong Kong–international couples who are now separated or inconvenienced by the discriminatory policy.’
Chan added: ‘It is an opportune moment to institute a civil union in Hong Kong and to conduct a sweeping policy review. No same-sex couples should be excluded from enjoying certain rights, and that’s the standard set by Hong Kong’s highest court.
‘Luckier LGBT couples may have the resources to go overseas to get married. A few courageous and determined LGBT citizens, such as QT in this case, went through a mentally and financially draining legal process to fight for themselves and many others.’