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Hong Kong’s LGBTI activists discuss the ongoing battle for equal rights

Hong Kong’s LGBTI activists discuss the ongoing battle for equal rights

LGBTI rights activists in Hong Kong have made it clear they are ready to fight for full equality for same-sex couples.

A number of activists were discussing these points at a forum to mark the end of Pink Season, a five-week LGBTI-themed festival which comes to a close on Sunday (3 November).

The campaigners applauded recent developments which have advanced LGBTI rights in the city.

The key is, the campaigners said, to make the progress count in the long-term.

The campaigners pointed to the recent case of a married lesbian woman from the UK who had applied for a spousal visa.

Though initially denied a visa, Hong Kong’s highest court later overturned the ruling and approved her application in July.

Legal experts and researchers hailed the ruling as a major step towards progressing LGBTI rights in the city.

The fight for equal spousal rights

Campaigners are currently following the ongoing case involving a gay civil servant fighting for equal spousal benefits for his British husband, the South China Mourning Post reported.

Angus Leung, a native of Hong Kong, has been involved in a court battle to make the same spousal and tax benefits open to heterosexual couples, available to his husband, Scott Adams. The case has been ongoing since 2015.

Hong Kong’s Marriage Reform Ordinance defines marriage as ‘the voluntary union for life of one man with one woman to the exclusion of all others’

‘Gay rights are like any human rights issue: if you are a human being, no matter what ethnic group you come from, you deserve the same rights,’ said Aaron Chan, one of the lawyers representing Leung. ‘That should be applicable to Hong Kong as well.’

Leung’s case shown extra promise following the ruling by the Court of Final Appeal in favor of the British woman (who cannot be identified for legal reasons) should be granted a dependence visa on the basis that her wife held an employment visa to work in Hong Kong.

Public support for rights and activists

To many in Hong Kong’s LGBTI community, Leung’s case is emblematic of the fight for equality for same-sex couples. Should he be successful in the ruling, it would be a major milestone for the city’s LGBTI rights movement.

While discussing the legal hurdles same-sex couples continue to face, Chan was also quick to note that public support was vital to achieving the ultimate goal of marital equality.

‘It’s important for society to tell lawmakers: we are ready – listen to the majority’s voice and make this happen,’ Chan said.

Chan referenced recent poll, which found that an increasing number of people in Hong Kong were accepting of the LGBTI community and supported LGBTI rights.

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