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9 Jul 2018

Hong Kong Visa Rights Extended to Same-Sex Couples

Courts will allow gay individuals to bring their partners to the
city on long-term visas.

A top court ruled earlier this month that gay couples are entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples regarding spousal visas in Hong Kong, *The* *New York Times* reported.

The decision relates to a 2014 case brought by a British woman wishing to join her partner—who is of South African and British nationality—in the city after the partner began a job there. She was denied a spousal visa on the basis that marriage in Hong Kong is legislated as being between a man and a woman, leaving her with no option but to obtain a tourist visa, which does not allow the recipient to work or access public services.

The woman, known only as QT, lost the case in 2016 but appealed. A year later, the Court of Appeal ruled that the decision had been discriminatory, and this month, the Court of Final Appeal upheld this ruling.

Michael Vidler, QT’s lawyer, told* The* *New York Times* that the court’s move could have positive consequences for Hong Kong residents and foreign nationals in the city. 

“Logically, if the government is going to apply this decision in relation to immigration policy, it should see that the writing is on the wall,” he said, referring to the possibility of greater recognition in general regarding same-sex marriage.

Prior to the most recent ruling, tens of banks and law firms sent a petition to the Court of Final Appeal asking that the decision be changed, stating that immigration concessions to same-sex couples would put off potential international clientele. The petition was denied.

Coinciding with the Court of Final Appeal’s decision was the publication of survey results from the University of Hong Kong on same-sex marriage, which revealed that more than half of the city’s residents support these rights.

Hong Kong

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