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Man wins spousal benefits in landmark ruling by Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal

Angus Leung Chun-kwong fought for the same rights as other civil servants

2019-06-06

Words: Steve Brown

A man has won spousal benefits in a landmark ruling by Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal.

Back in 2017, senior immigration officer Angus Leung Chun-kwong initiated a judicial review against the Civil Service Bureau after his husband – who he married overseas – was not granted the same spousal benefits given to other civil servants.

After he partially won the case at the Court of the First Instance, the Hong Kong government filed an appeal which was overturned in 2018.

In May, Leung appealed the decision and today, the Court of Appeal handed down the final judgement today.

The court ruled denying Leung and his husband spousal rights breached Hong Kong’s anti-discrimination laws.

Man-kei Tam, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, said: “Today’s unanimous judgment is a huge step forward for equality in Hong Kong.

“This extensive victory brings Hong Kong more in line with its international obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of people with different sexual orientations.

“The Court of Final Appeal yet again confirmed that the blanket denial of partnership rights for same-sex couples is discriminatory.

“This is despite the fact that same-sex marriages or civil partnerships are not yet recognised in Hong Kong.

“While today’s judgment is very positive for the protection of LGBTI rights in Hong Kong, it is outrageous that LGBTI people in Hong Kong continue to have to go to court in order to force the authorities to treat their relationships as equal. It is time the Hong Kong government take the initiative and show leadership.

“No-one should experience discrimination because of who they are or who they love.”

Hong Kong does not recognise same-sex marriages or civil partnerships but there is pressure amounting following Taiwan legalising same-sex marriages last month.