Hong Kong’s high court on Tuesday (28 May) heard arguments from a plaintiff’s lawyers in a landmark civil partnership case.
A lesbian woman, known only as MK, is arguing that preventing her from forming a civil partnership contravenes her rights to equality and privacy.
MK’s barristers argued on Tuesday that tradition was not an excuse for unjust practices.
Examples of traditions around the world include cannibalism, genital mutilation and quarantining menstruating women, the lawyers said according to an LGBTI activist inside the court.
MK is seeking a judicial review. She and her lawyers claim Hong Kong’s current stance of not recognizing same-sex unions breaches the Basic Law, the city’s constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
During a preliminary hearing in August, the government asked for more time to prepare their case.
They said litigation requires input from 13 government departments.
To the courts
Hong Kong does not recognize same-sex marriage. Nor is there any anti-discrimination legislation to protect LGBTI people.
But, after a landmark court ruling in July last year, Hong Kong does recognize overseas same-sex unions when granting spousal visas.
The MK case is one of three same-sex union cases currently in the courts.
Immigration officer Angus Leung, who married his husband in New Zealand five years ago, sued the government in 2015.
The government had refused to recognize his marital status and grant his husband benefits such as medical insurance.
Hong Kong’s top court is now conducting the final hearings in the case and is expected rule in the next few months.
Meanwhile, a 21-year-old student, known as TF, and a 31-year-old activist, known as STK, are leading marriage equality challenges.
The men argue that the lack of options for same-sex couples to get married violated their right to equality.
What’s more, last month, renowned lesbian heiress, Gigi Chao launched a new group, Hong Kong Marriage Equality.