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19 Feb 2009

Gay couple, middleman jailed over bogus marriage in Hong Kong

In the first known case of its kind in Asia, a gay couple and a middleman have been sentenced to jail for organising a bogus marriage between a Malaysian man and a Hong Kong woman to gain residency.

Two Hong Kong residents and a Malaysia resident have been jailed over a fake marriage after appearing in the Sha Tin Magistrates' Court on Tuesday.

According to the Hong Kong government's news web site news.gov.hk, Malaysia resident Derek Chong, 29, and Hong Kong residents Andrew Lam, 51, and Edward Lai, 43, were convicted on a joint conspiracy charge. Chong was jailed for eight months, Lam for eight months and Lai for five months.

The court heard that Lam had agreed with Lai to arrange for his boyfriend, Chong, to enter into a false marriage with a female Hong Kong resident for HK$25,000 (US$ 3,223). The idea was for Chong to use the false marriage to apply for a dependant visa to enter Hong Kong to live with Lam, and eventually for settlement.

In March 2006, Lai introduced Lam to a middleman and the middleman subsequently recruited a Hong Kong woman for money.

In September 2006, Chong and the woman went through a marriage ceremony at City Hall Marriage Registry, witnessed by Lai and the middleman with the presence of Lam. Soon after the marriage, Chong and the woman approached the Immigration Department to apply for a dependant visa and the application was successful.

A year later, Chong again contacted his "wife" for an application for extension of stay in Hong Kong. With her assistance, Chong was granted a three-year extension of stay in Hong Kong in November 2007.

"The department has been very concerned with non-Hong Kong residents obtaining the right to stay in Hong Kong by means of marriage of convenience," a department spokesman said. "A special task force has been set up to gather intelligence through various avenues and a thorough investigation will be conducted once evidence comes to light. If there is enough evidence, the department will launch a prosecution."

"For people who have obtained their residence in Hong Kong by fraudulent means, their Hong Kong identity card and residence status will be declared invalid according to the laws of Hong Kong. They will also be subject to removal back to their place of origin," the spokesman said.

Under the laws of Hong Kong, anyone who commits the offence of conspiracy to defraud is liable to prosecution with a maximum penalty of 14 years' jail.

According to an AFP report on Wednesday, an immigration spokesman was quoting as saying that the woman involved in the scam had also been prosecuted, but no verdict had been reached.

Source: Info.gov.hk press release dated Feb 17, 2009 with minor edits.


Gay activists in Hong Kong have campaigned for recognition of same-sex partnerships for several years. In 2004, civil rights lawyer Roddy Shaw, who also heads the non-governmental organisation Civil Rights for Sexual Diversities, and his partner, Nelson Ng, unsuccessfully sought to have their marriage under Canadian law recognised by the Inland Revenue Department and be granted the spousal tax rebate. See Fridae articles linked below.

Hong Kong

Reader's Comments

1. 2009-02-19 18:15  
I wonder how long they were bf's prior to Chong entering HK?

Most countries have reasonable de-facto laws. If applicable in this case, then why not a deferred sentence!
2. 2009-02-19 18:48  
ridiculous law~~~~sucks!
Who sued them?
It seems that the government is just kinda surveillence machine, prying into ppl's private life, to see if they really make love or not.
So what? A real marriage can be even more ridiculous sometimes.
3. 2009-02-19 20:35  
It is regrettable that at present cross border relationships often are inhibited and complicated by immigration policies, but that does not justify breaking the law.
laws exist for social order and the benefit of society in general. if each of us decides which law to keep we will have chaos.
I empathize with these poor men and their plight
I, too, have considered a similar option for bringing a man to the USA, but it is also a criminal act and would lead to heavy fines, theoretically prison time and deportation for any non citizen involved. It is called FRAUD.

4. 2009-02-19 22:09  
I was shock at first but it is good after all. Teach the LGBTs a good lesson.

There is no free lunch on earth. If you want to have it, you got to pay it. Pay it now or later. You must be willing to sacrifice and go through suffering. No such thing to play 'hide and seek'.

Do you want the descendants after you to go through the same suffering as you now? You got to do something. The only way, only one way is to take up courage, come out, be open, be thick skin, got discriminated but press on. Some may have to sacrifice in this generation. But keep pressing on. Otherwise the situation will remain the same in 100 years down the future.

Take up courage to enter the Promised Land! There will be many enemies. But the enemies are not hinderance for you to enter, but your slavery mindset of fear. The only way is still enter the Promised Land as staying in the Wilderness does not helps. You will just die there.
5. 2009-02-19 22:38  
What is the real crime here?

a. Shamming a marriage?
b. Discrimination against gay couples?
c. Lack of or non-existence of civil partnership rights?
d. The Govt invading privacy to gather intell?
e. All of the above?

My guess is e.

6. 2009-02-19 22:42  
What is the real crime here?

a. Shamming a marriage?
b. Discrimination against gay couples?
c. Lack of or non-existence of civil partnership rights?
d. The Govt invading privacy to gather intell?
e. All of the above?

My guess is e.

7. 2009-02-20 00:31  
Wow it reminds me when my ex who is a HK suggest us to do something similar. But i was not prepare to take such risk. Having a full time job in HK is good enough.

8. 2009-02-20 00:34  
this news was posted next to another article in the standard newspaper with the titled ASIA FACING gay sex AIDS explosion.

someone is trying to make us look so bad here.

When you read the other article, they "claimed" we are slutty and have many partners and leads to alarming rising aids cases.

At the same time, in Asia, most governments punished us when we trying to have some close meaningful relationship.

what I trying to say here is FUCK YOU stupid anti gay laws and regulations PLUS governments!
Comment #9 was deleted by its author
10. 2009-02-20 01:29  
Post #3 Kuman10127 says "laws exist for social order and the benefit of society in general. if each of us decides which law to keep we will have chaos."

That's precisely why the situation on 377A in SG and elsewhere is unacceptable (to lawyers).

But it's also a bit black-and-white. Should Rosa Parks have sat in the back of the bus with the blacks? Should that mixed race couple not have married? In other words, is there an obligation to obey a patently unjust law, or one that is constitutionally invalid? It's not an easy matter.

Some people used to have to enter marriages of convenience in the UK in the 1980s if there was no other legal route open to them to be with their (gay) loved one, but then, long before civil unions existed, it was decided partners could come in if you could prove a relationship lasting at least 2 years. It was a compassionate decision, and various governments have something similar.

HK has anti-discrimination laws, so there should logically be provision for genuine partners to reside, whether it's gay or a straight relationship.

11. 2009-02-20 04:02  
Residency is where the Governor lives, residence is the state of residing somewhere. I wish people would not mix up the two words.Same with dependency and dependence.
12. 2009-02-20 13:08  
I wish we lived on a planet without political borders. These imaginary lines we draw on our maps, we rule with our governments, and protect with our militaries and our laws...will someday vanish along with all human life.....but wishing won't make it true. Ah,the power of love and lust: I have to admit I'm impressed by their desire and their creativity, albeit an "illegal" attempt....this sort of thing has been going on for centuries, and will certainly continue for centuries more....
13. 2009-02-20 14:26  
With the current economic recession, it already is a 'planet without political borders' ...in the wrong sense. Too bad. Jokes aside, I think I appreciate the importance of gay marriage now. :)
14. 2009-02-20 17:04  
My ex-bf was from Hong Kong and he managed to stay in Singapore during that time on a long term basis by doing a 2 year diploma course here. He was offered PR by the Singapore Government after graduation. Unfortunately he left Singapore after he found someone new ... so sad. That was in the mid 90s.
Comment #15 was deleted by its author
16. 2009-02-20 18:16  
This is why you must fight for Equality, it is sad when loving couples cannot stay together because they have different Passports, but it has to be said that even straight couples have problems too. Gay marraiges would help this situation and going to Jail is even sadder....

How did they find out - if you do need to do this it is best to use friends not paid middlemen.

Fake outrage from China HK - how many Chinese have used this method of MBA's to export themselves for whatever reason!
17. 2009-02-21 03:48  
This is shocking news.

How shameful that having freed ourselves from colonial rule, the HK SAR Gov. lags behind most developed nations re basic human rights and continues to oppress sexual minorities. The UK has bravely faced up to its imperial, oppressive past and now actively works to challenge all forms of discrimination, protecting its LGBT citizens under law.

It's time to grow up, HK SAR Gov / Legco legislators. A mature, civilised society is one where all citizens are treated equally by law, and where love, not hatred, is encouraged. This appalling headline makes you the laughing stock of the world.

If the guys involved in this case wish to contact me, I am happy to explore telling this story on the London stage, since I work in the arts in LDN / HK.
18. 2009-02-22 05:01  
I give my total smypathy to the couple who resolved their residency problem for a good reason, a way out of desperation.It is time for hk gay community to think what their basic right deserved, to move forward and to make the gov to recongise gay partnership. Why cant we stay with someone we love, and this basic right are being ignored and are discriminated against? when our hetrosexual counterpart are not. Im still moved by the news i read about this old mum who helped to get marry to his gay son's non UK bfriend for the same reason, before gay civil partnership was introduced recently. so think and stand up for your right you boyz in HK!!

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