Big day nears for lesbian marriage fight

Top News | Jane Cheung 4 Jan 2019

The High Court will hear the first civil case of homosexuals challenging Hong Kong's marriage system in March at the earliest.

A lesbian identified as "MK" filed a writ for a judicial review last year, demanding the court rule on the government's ban on civil union for homosexuals as against the Basic Law and human rights law.

Separately, two men - "TF" and "STK" - filed writs seeking a ruling on gay marriage as legal and challenging a law restricting marriage to be between a man and woman.

All three cases were mentioned in court yesterday, after which High Court Judge Anderson Chow Ka-ming approved the application for leave for judicial review for TF and STK.

But MK's case will be dealt with first, as he said the three cases share the same grounds.

Chow said MK, 29, was the first to obtain approval and the government is set to submit evidence to the court in two weeks.

He said the results of MK's case would affect the other two cases and that the three should be processed one by one.

According to the writs, MK is a permanent resident and has been living with another local woman for two years.

She argues that the current law is unconstitutional as not only does it ban gay marriage it also refuses to recognize civil union between two people of the same gender.

TF, 21, said in his writ that he is a student at the University of Hong Kong and plans to marry another man in Taiwan.

He wants the court to amend the Marriage Ordinance's definition, which says marriage is the voluntary union of one man with one woman to the exclusion of all others.

TF said marriage should be the voluntary union between two people, without specifying gender.

In STK's writ, the 31-year-old man said he is a permanent resident and that he married a man in a foreign jurisdiction in 2013.

He shares the same request as TF and also asks the court to rule the SAR law that rejects same-sex marriage outside the city to be unconstitutional.

TF's and STK's lawyers said their clients think their cases are slightly different from MK's as they request that homosexual marriage be recognized, while MK thinks it is acceptable if the law allows civil union between the same sex.

The Immigration Department revised its policy to accept applications for dependent visas from same-sex partners of overseas workers in September after the government lost its appeal.

It came after a British woman - "QT" - was denied a dependent visa when her female partner moved to Hong Kong for work. They had entered into a civil partnership in Britain.

Despite losing the case over the visa arrangements in March 2016, she won an appeal in September 2017.

jane.cheung@singtaonewscorp.com

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