Since 2014 a British national has been fighting her case in court for Hong Kong to accept her spousal visa, her spouse is also a British national working in Hong Kong. In the first week of July Hong Kong’s highest court ordered immigration officials to grant spousal visas to same sex expatriate couples.
The couple who entered a civil partnership in the UK in 2004 were repeatedly denied a spousal visa as Hong Kong did not recognise same sex relationships as marriages.
In a landmark decision last year, Hong Kong’s court of appeals overturned a lower court’s ruling to uphold the immigration department’s judgement. The government then appealed that decision in Hong Kong’s court of final appeal in a case that became a rallying point for LGBT advocates, as well as the city’s financial industry.
On Wednesday, the court upheld the appeals court ruling,they stated that the immigration department’s behaviour was discriminatory and unjustified.
“Today’s ruling by the Court of Final Appeal affirms what millions of us in this wonderful and vibrant city know to be true, that discrimination based on sexual orientation, like any other form of discrimination is offensive and demeaning,” QT said in a statement read out by her lawyer after the ruling.
“Once again this court has said loud and clear that equality before the law applies to all persons in HK, including the LGBTI community,” she said.
In a statement, the couple fighting said the ruling “affirms what millions of us in this wonderful and vibrant city know to be true, that discrimination based on sexual orientation, like any other form of discrimination, is offensive and demeaning.”
However the court stated that the appeals cautioned does not change how Hong Kong defines marriage, which it defined as heterosexual and monogamous. Advocates celebrated the decision made and saw it a step towards accepting gay rights in Hong Kong, which decriminalised homosexuality in 1991. The LGBTI community in Hong Kong see this as a milestone and now feel that the government need to place their focus on ending discrimination towards same sex couples in all walks of life.
The support of gay marriages is increasing in Hong Kong. A survey completed by Hong Kong’s University’s Centre for Comparative and Public Law, found that 50.4% of people in Hong Kong agreed with same sex marriage in 2017 which is up from 38% in 2013. This study was the first to track the changes in the public opinion on legal protections for homosexual people.