Big setback for same-sex marriage in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Pride Parade banner same-sex marriage court civil unions
Photo: Hong Kong Pride Parade/Facebook

A Hong Kong court has ruled against lifting a ban on same-sex marriages and even civil unions in the Asian nation.

A lesbian woman, known as “MK”, took the issue to court, arguing the ban on same-sex marriage violated her constitutional rights.

But the country’s Court of First Instance ruled the case’s evidence was not “sufficiently strong or compelling” enough to require defining marriage “as including a marriage between two persons of the same sex,” CNN reported.

“Were the court to ‘update’ the meaning of ‘marriage’ to include same-sex marriages, it would introduce a new social policy on a fundamental issue with far reaching legal, social and economic consequences,” the ruling stated said.

“It is beyond the proper scope of the functions or powers of the court.”

The government was also not obliged to provide alternate recognition such as civil unions, the judge said.

But the judge warned more LGBTIQ discrimination cases would come before the courts. The judge therefore urged the Government “to undertake a comprehensive review on this matter.”

Court ruling ‘a bitter blow’ for Hong Kong LGBTIQ community

Human rights group Amnesty International described the judgment as a “bitter blow” for LGBTQ people in Hong Kong.

“Sadly, the discriminatory treatment of same-sex couples will continue for the time being,” Amnesty said in a statement.

“LGBTI communities in Hong Kong … cannot acquire the same status and recognition, and access the same rights, as opposite-sex couples.

“[This is] due to outdated laws that refuse to recognize same-sex unions.

“This result is deeply disappointing but will not dampen the fight for LGBTI rights in Hong Kong.”

Two gay men also separately argued Hong Kong’s ban on same-sex marriage violates their right to equality under their city’s laws.

Homosexuality was only decriminalised in Hong Kong in 1991 and same-sex marriage is not legal in the country.

LGBTIQ campaigners say gay, lesbian and transgender people face discrimination in Hong Kong. They often face pressure from family to enter heterosexual marriages and have children.

Taiwan became the first nation in Asia to legalise same-sex marriages in May, after a landmark court ruling mandating marriage equality.

More than 300 couples tied the knot in joyous scenes on the day the laws came into effect.

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