Hong Kong Grants Same-Sex Couples Equal Visa Rights

51

On Wednesday (July 4), the LGBTQ community Hong Kong witnessed a landmark achievement. The city’s highest court ruled that same-sex couples have the same rights to spousal visas as heterosexual couples, a victory years in the making.

Originally entering the legal system in 2014, a British woman brought the case to Hong Kong’s Court Appeal after being refused a spousal visa months into her civil partnership. Her partner, who is British and South African nationality, had recently taken up a job and residency in “Asia’s world city.”

Largely roadblocked by China's traditional definition marriage, legal teams took years to fight the case. Eventually, the Court Final Appeal ruled unanimously in the plaintiff's favor on grounds that the refusal indirectly discriminated against her based on sexuality.

“Hong Kong is an international, cosmopolitan city, so it’s not surprising that views are becoming more progressive over time,” Kelley Loper, an associate pressor at the University Hong Kong, told The New York Times.

This ruling follows a 2017 survey Loper helped conduct that revealed that over half Hong Kong’s residents support same-sex marriage. Activists hope this is just the tip the iceberg for recognition and full-scale equality for queer people in the metropolitan city.

“This judgment is a milestone for Hong Kong and a watershed moment,” Jan Wetzel, senior legal adviser at Amnesty International, said.

Read the final ficial court ruling here.