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Hong Kong court overturns decision to recognize same-sex couples

Hong Kong court overturns decision to recognize same-sex couples

This Hong Kong couple want to have their relationship recognized | Courtesy of Angus Leung

A Hong Kong appeals court has overturned a historic decision to give equal recognition to same-sex couples as heterosexual couples.

In 2015, Angus Leung Chun-kwong sued the Immigration Department where he worked since 2002 for refusing to recognize his marriage to Scott Adams whom he married in New Zealand in 2014. Adams is a UK citizen who lives in Hong Kong and the couple have been together for 13 years.

Last year, Leung won a court battle against his former employer with the Court of First Instance agreeing that the refusal of equal benefits was unconstitutional and discriminated against his sexual orientation.

He also sued the tax department for not giving his marriage equal recognition.

Violation of Basic Law

But in a huge blow for the LGBTI community, an appeals court overruled the decision today. Leung also lost his legal battle against the tax department.

Hong Kong’s only openly gay legislator, Ray Chan, told Gay Star News about his disappointment with the court’s decision.

‘In my view, the judgement is too conservative and fails to uphold the Basic Law’s Article 37, as the Court argues that only heterosexual majority enjoys the freedom to marriage. Human rights should never be decided solely by the majority of people’ he said.

Chan added: ‘Angus Leung and his spouse are penalized for a reason no other than their sexual orientation. While it is true that socio-moral views should be taken into account, more and more evidence can be gathered to support Leung’s appeal.

‘Businesses and individuals come out to support same-sex marriage, as it is the right thing to do. Two consenting adults entering into a loving, committed relationship and setting up a household, many believe, should be allowed and tolerated.

‘Second, society is changing, and the world is changing. Hong Kong is an international city. For this reason, the Court’s opinion today does not seem to be in line with the recent progressive developments on LGBT rights around the world, including here in Asia.

Gigi Chao, one of Hong Kong’s most famous LGBTI people also tweeted about the ruling. Chao became an international news story after her billionaire father offered to pay a man US$130 million in 2014 to marry his lesbian daughter.

‘Art 37 of the Basic Law needs to interpreted in step with life in 2018 and should not be allowed to be discriminatory,’ she wrote.

Today’s court decision comes just days before Hong Kong’s Immigration Department will head to the Final Court of Appeal the decision given to a lesbian working in Hong Kong for her British wife to be granted a dependent visa, thus recognizing their British marriage.