Lawyers representing the Hong Kong government in a high-profile LGBT rights court case appeared to flounder in the final phase of the legal battle yesterday (7 May). Immigration officer Angus Leung, who married his husband in New Zealand five years ago, sued the government in 2015.The government had refused to recognise his marital status and grant his husband benefits such as medical insurance. Hong Kong’s top court is now conducting the final hearings in the case and is expected rule in the next few months. Lawyers representing Leung have argued same-sex marriage is no different from any other marriage. However, government lawyers argue that Hong Kong only recognise marriage between a man and a woman, and that granting same-sex spousal benefits would undermine the ‘special status’ of marriage in Hong Kong. Leung’s lawyer, Karon Monaghan QC, pushed the government to explain: ‘It has to be justified. It’s not enough to say marriage is special and unique’. Justice Roberto Ribeiro, one of the presiding judges, also asked: ‘Why are you saying that it was undermining the tradition of marriage…because a gay person is now allowed to see a dentist’. Monaghan maintained the government had failed to form a ‘rational connection’ between marriage as ‘special and unique’ and granting Leung his rights.
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