Homosexual Official Wins Courtroom Battle for Spousal Advantages in Hong Kong


HONG KONG — Hong Kong’s high court docket dominated on Thursday homosexual civil servant and his husband have been entitled to spousal advantages and a joint tax return, the newest instance of an Asian authorities increasing rights for same-sex couples.

The ruling by the Hong Kong Courtroom of Ultimate Enchantment discovered that the authorities had didn’t justify an earlier choice to disclaim these advantages to Angus Leung Chun-kwong, an immigration officer within the semiautonomous Chinese language territory, and his British husband Scott Adams, whom he married in New Zealand in 2014.

Although the ruling was restricted in its scope and didn’t legalize same-sex marriage within the metropolis, Mr. Leung’s supporters celebrated the choice as an incremental however vital victory.

The court docket has made it “doable for all different present and future civil servants to benefit from the rights they need to be entitled to,” Raymond Chan, an opposition member within the metropolis’s Legislative Council who’s Hong Kong’s first overtly homosexual lawmaker, wrote in a Medium submit after the ruling was introduced.

Mr. Chan famous that Mr. Leung had initially filed the case anonymously, however later “traded his cherished privateness to turn out to be the general public face of a motion.”

Man-kei Tam, the director of Amnesty Worldwide’s Hong Kong workplace, referred to as the highest court docket’s ruling “an enormous step ahead for equality” within the metropolis.

“This in depth victory brings Hong Kong extra according to its worldwide obligation to respect, defend and fulfill the rights of individuals with totally different sexual orientations,” he stated in a press release.

The ruling got here lower than a month after Taiwan made same-sex marriage authorized in a primary for Asia, and fewer than a yr after the identical Hong Kong court docket dominated that overseas same-sex couples, legally married elsewhere and dwelling within the metropolis, have been entitled to spousal visas.

That case was introduced in 2014 by a British lady, whose utility for a dependent visa in Hong Kong was refused on the premise that marriage is outlined within the metropolis because the union of 1 man and one lady. She had arrived in Hong Kong to hitch her accomplice, a girl of South African and British nationality, months after they fashioned a civil partnership in Britain.

The British plaintiff claimed that Hong Kong’s legal guidelines have been discriminatory, and greater than 30 main banks and legislation corporations — influential industries right here — petitioned the court docket to take part within the last attraction.

In Mr. Leung’s case, a decrease court docket initially stated that the choice to disclaim the couple advantages, together with joint tax evaluation and medical advantages for his husband, “may represent oblique discrimination” on the premise of his sexual orientation, in keeping with a abstract of the sooner case launched by the Courtroom of Ultimate Enchantment.

However the decrease court docket stated the choice was justified as a result of Hong Kong legislation and town’s “prevailing socio-moral values” thought-about heterosexual marriage “the one acceptable type of marriage,” in keeping with the abstract.

These values seem like altering. A 2017 ballot by the College of Hong Kong, for instance, discovered that greater than half of residents surveyed supported same-sex marriage, in contrast with 38 p.c in 2013.

And final month, the corporate that owns Hong Kong’s subway system reversed a choice to ban an commercial for Cathay Pacific, town’s flag service airline, that confirmed a same-sex couple holding arms whereas strolling barefoot on a seaside. The ban on the advert provoked a right away public backlash.

In its ruling on Thursday, the Courtroom of Ultimate Enchantment explicitly famous that Mr. Leung’s attraction “doesn’t concern the query of whether or not same-sex couples have a proper to marry below Hong Kong legislation.”

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