High Court reserves judgment on same-sex spouse benefits

World | 16 Dec 2016 4:13 pm

The High Court has reserved judgment on whether the government should provide benefits to the same-sex spouse of a civil servant. 

A senior immigration officer, Leung Chun-kwong, launched a judicial review last year, saying his partner, whom he married in New Zealand, was denied medical and dental services.

He also complained he can't enjoy the same tax incentives as married heterosexual couples. 

His lawyer, senior counsel Nigel Kat, noted the benefits are enjoyed by opposite sex couples – even if they are married overseas. 

Kat said it was discriminatory for the government to deny the right Leung’s spouse simply on grounds of sexual orientation. 

But the government stressed the heterosexual nature of marriage is a core value in Hong Kong, and same-sex marriage is not officially recognised. 

Therefore, instead of denying the right of his partner as a spouse, the Civil Service Bureau had simply treated Leung as an unmarried person. 

But Kat suggested that it's just a ad-hoc rule the government devised to answer a substantial case. He described it as a "bureaucratic response" that's "simply wrong.''-RTHK

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