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Hong Kong court turns down first judicial challenge for same-sex marriage

The judge ruled the government did not violate any constitutional rights

2019-10-18

Words: Steve Brown

A Hong Kong court turns down the city’s first judicial challenge for same-sex marriage.

The Court of First Instance ruled against a lesbian woman, known as MK, who argued that the government’s failure to recognise same-sex relationships and legalise same-sex marriages and civil partnerships violated her constitutional right, South China Morning Post reported.

MK reportedly planned to enter into a civil partnership with her partner and she argued that the government’s failure to recognise her relationship violated her rights to privacy and equality guaranteed by the Bill of Rights and the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution.

During the trial back in May, her lawyer said the issue was ‘now or never’ and compared the government’s refusal to the same as banning gay and lesbian couples out of a ‘private member club’.

The lawyer continued that rights including inheritance or the exemption to give evidence in criminal proceedings against one’s spouse were only available to married couples, same-sex couples had been denied those rights.

Now, Judge Anderson Chow said that the government did not violate MK’s constitutional rights in denying her same-sex marriage, or in its failure to provide a legal framework for recognising same-sex relationships, such as civil unions.

Chow also said the government had no legal obligation to provide substitute arrangements to same-sex couples, such as civil unions or civil partnerships, the Hong Kong Free Press reported.

Currently, Hong Kong does not recognise same-sex marriage except for limited purposes such as taxation, civil servants’ benefits or application of dependant visas if a couple has married overseas.

The authorities do not offer the option of a civil union partnership either.