Two gay men have won the right to challenge laws banning same-sex marriage in Hong Kong.
A 21-year-old University Hong Kong student, known as TF, and a 31-year-old activist, known as STK, are leading the challenges.
The High Court in Hong Kong gave both cases permission to proceed. The men argued that the lack of options for same-sex couples to get married violated their right to equality under the city’s Bill of Rights and mini-constitution, the Basic Law, the South China Morning Post reported.
First direct challenges to Hong Kong same-sex marriage ban
Currently, Hong Kong does not recognize or permit marriage between two people of the same sex. It’s an issue that has sparked numerous court challenges in recent years. However, the latest challenges are the first to directly challenge the current law.
A victory for the applicants would be the most progressive development for LGBT rights in the city, the paper reported.
However, some LGBT activists and legal experts fear that if the challenges are unsuccessful, they could hamper future challenges.
‘Launching that case prematurely without laying a proper foundation could be disastrous as under our system of law,’ the paper quoted one human rights lawyer as saying. ‘An adverse precedent could take many years to overcome and end up delaying change for decades.’
The city’s only openly gay legislator,Raymond Chan Chi-chuen, said he was aware of such a dilemma, but respected the legal bids, the Post reported.
Mr Justice Anderson Chow Ka-ming gave both applications the green light to be heard. However, he suspended them to first deal with a similar case.
He intended to first hear another case involving a 29-year-old lesbian, known as MK, the Post reported. She is seeking a civil union partnership system in Hong Kong. MK’s case, Anderson said, would cover the principle issues found in the applications lodged by the pair.
Chan said he and other activists had discussed the issue of litigants. They said that, if there were more applicants in a challenge, there would be more people of different backgrounds involved and more support.