VICTORIA, HONG KONG – (10-21-19) – Hong Kong’s Court of First Instance has rejected marriage equality for its LGBT citizens but recommended the government make a “comprehensive review” of laws that might lead to over turning anti-LGBTQ discrimination laws currently on the books.

This has been seen as a major setback to the LGBTQ rights movement in Asia, especially considering the Hong Kong Government extended limited recognition and protection to cohabiting same-sex couples under the Domestic Violence Ordinance since 2009.

Taiwan became the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2019 and it was widely believed that Hong Kong would be next.

Hong Kong Court of First Instance block Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage

“There is no right to same-sex marriage under existing laws, and it would be beyond the proper scope of the functions and powers of the court to change a social policy on a fundamental issue,” wrote Justice Anderson Chow Ka-Ming, in the court’s ruling issued last Friday.

The ruling came in a lawsuit by a woman, identified only as MK, who said in her lawsuit that being prevented from marrying her female partner or at least entering into a civil union violated the city’s Basic Law, which is considered a “mini-constitution,” and its Bill of Rights. While Hong Kong is part of China, it retains legal autonomy in limited legal matters.

Justice Anderson Chow Ka-Ming said the Basic Law cannot be interpreted as allowing same-sex marriage. “While the word ‘marriage’ may now be understood in some parts of the world as being applicable to same-sex couples, it is, I consider, how the word is, and has always been, understood in Hong Kong … for the purpose of interpretation of the Basic Law,” wrote Justice Anderson Chow Ka-Ming.

The New York Times reports….”Through court actions, Hong Kong has recognized same-sex marriages performed in other countries for a few limited purposes, such as the granting of spousal visas and the right to file a joint tax return. But in the case involving tax returns, a court “explicitly said that the decision was unrelated to the question of whether same-sex couples had the right to marry in Hong Kong,” the Times reports.

Article by: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer

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