Court rules in favor of same-sex expat couple

AP
Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal ruled yesterday that the same-sex partner of a British expatriate is entitled to equal treatment under immigration law.
AP

Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal ruled yesterday that the same-sex partner of a British expatriate is entitled to equal treatment under immigration law, marking a significant step for gay rights in the city.

The unanimous judgment said the woman identified only as “QT” should be issued the same dependent visa that spouses and children of other foreigners working in the Asian financial hub are entitled to.

The ruling is seen as a landmark for Hong Kong in maintaining the legal system in its status as China’s special administrative region. Although same-sex unions aren’t recognized under Hong Kong law, the city is broadly liberal in its social values and has a large foreign population.

The ruling says the policy of accepting only opposite-sex spouses as eligible for a dependent visa “constituted indirect discrimination.”

QT entered into a same-sex civil partnership in England with her partner, identified as “SS,” but was given only a visitor’s visa when the couple entered Hong Kong in 2011. That did not permit her the right to work or study, despite SS meeting the financial and other requirements for sponsoring a dependent.

QT’s application for a dependent visa was denied by a lower court but approved by the Court of Appeal. The immigration department appealed that ruling, arguing that Hong Kong law only recognized marriages between men and women, but yesterday’s judgment turned that down.

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