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6 Oct 2017

Legal Entitlements for Same-sex Couples in HK Unlikely to Change, Say Experts

Landmark ruling granting a visa to lesbian's spouse may not immediately apply to all couples in similar situation.

Legal experts in Hong Kong have warned that same-sex couples still have a way to go before they are on equal footing with heterosexual couples despite last week's landmark ruling.

On Monday, British national known as QT won a landmark court victory against the immigration department for their refusal to issue a spousal visa despite the fact the couple had a legal civil partnership in the UK.

In a unanimous decision reached by three judges, the Court of Appeal found that the director of immigration failed to justify the "indirect discrimination on account of sexual orientation that QT suffers."

On Tuesday, 12 financial institutions released a statement welcoming the decision, saying: "This is a major victory for Hong Kong – it is not just about diversity and inclusion but also equality."

But employment lawyer Duncan Abate told the South China Morning Post it was "absolutely not true" that same-sex couples were now on level footing with heterosexual couples after the judgment, noting that the city still had no sexual orientation anti-discrimination laws, and the ruling had not changed the legal definition of a "spouse."

Hong Kong University law professor Rick Glofcheski said that companies probably would not have to extend benefits that heterosexual couples enjoyed to same-sex couples despite the ruling, according to the paper.

Andrea Randall, a partner at Hong Kong-based law firm Gall, told the SCMP Hong Kong employers were leading the change on improving rights for same-sex workers.

"This ruling now puts significant pressure on the Hong Kong government to conform with international norms to enact legislation to protect LGBT rights," she said.

Reader's Comments

1. 2017-10-13 05:30
A rather contradictory article containing some illogical and confusing sentences.

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