Hong Kong

Hong Kong Man Sends Legal Challenge To City's Anti-Gay Laws

Hong Kong is getting ever closer to gaining more rights for LGBTQ people thanks to a gay man who’s challenging anti-gay laws in the region.

In Hong Kong law, specifically in the Crimes Ordinance section, there are rules about homosexual buggery, gross indecency by man and the conduct of procuring young person to resort to, or be on premise or vessel, for intercourse, prostitution, buggery or homosexual act.

Yeung Chu-wing, a 24-year-old volunteer for the LGBTQ rights group Rainbow Action, is now challenging those laws and calls them discriminatory since they target only gay men and allow straight couples and lesbians the right to pursue similar acts.

“The existence of discriminatory provisions against homosexuals in the Crimes Ordinance has the effect of stigmatizing homosexuals in Hong Kong and reinforcing public prejudice against homosexuals,” he says in his application for judicial review.

“This seriously affects the dignity of the applicant as a member of the homosexual community in Hong Kong and causes distress to the applicant.”

In addition, the discrimination against gay men directly goes against the basic principles of Hong Kong law.

The Basic Law for the city’s mini-constitution says that all residents are equal under the law and the Bill of Rights adds that everyone is “entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law”.

Yeung’s challenge is still being processed, but he wants the High Court to declare the sections outlawing homosexual acts as unconstitutional and in conflict with Article 25 of the Basic Law and Article 22 of the Bill of Rights, and therefore unconstitutional.

This comes just a month after Hong Kong lowered the restriction on gay men looking to donate blood. Before, gay men couldn’t donate at all and now the city has switched to the “one year after having gay sex” rule that many other countries use.

In addition, a British woman won a court case that now gives her civil union partner more rights and protections under the city’s laws. This then paves the way for international immigrants to have similar rights for their own same-sex partners.

h/t: South China Morning Post

New Court Ruling in Hong Kong Gives Protections To Immigrating Same-Sex Couples

Image via Devin Randall

Hong Kong courts just ruled in favor of same-sex couples.

A British woman referred to as QT moved to Hong Kong back in 2011 when he was offered a job with a tech company. When QT moved, she also brought her partner SS who she’d been in a civil partnership.

Problem is that Hong Kong’s laws don’t acknowledge same-sex marriages or even civil partnerships, so SS didn't recieve any spousal benefits that straight couples do.

To combat this, QT filed a judicial review in 2015 to challenge Hong Kong’s immigration department, but that was eventually rejected in 2016 by Hong Kong’s high court. The reasoning was that Hon Kong’s law defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

But luckily, earlier today the court of appeal in Hong Kong decided to rule in favor of QT and SS. QT’s attorneys, Vidler & Co, shared the judgment in celebration.

More: Hong Kong Is Easing A Strict Health Rule For Gay Men

The ruling was unanimous as all three judges found the department of immigration’s reasoning lacking and that they “failed to justify the indirect discrimination on account of sexual orientation that QT suffers.”

“[T]imes have changed and an increasing number of people are no longer prepared to accept the status quo without critical thought,” wrote the judges. Even though same-sex marriage still isn’t possible in Hong Kong, “Immigration, by definition, requires one to consider not only the local, but also the relevant overseas situation,” they said.

While all parties have four weeks to figure out the details of how this ruling affects not just QT and SS, but the whole city, this could be an important decision that can better the lives of same-sex couples in all of Hong Kong and specifically those wishing to come into the city.

Hong Kong Is Easing A Strict Health Rule For Gay Men

Image via Pexels

The current ruling on health in Hong Kong can be pretty strict on gay men. For instance, if gay men want to donate blood, they can't.

Current health policy for the Red Cross’s blood transfusion service (or BTS) in Hong Kong has potential donors fill out health forms for criteria such as recent travel, medical conditions, and so on. If a male donor stated that he had sex with another man at all he would be permanently deferred from donating.

That said, that policy will no longer be in effect as of September 25.

The Hong Kong Red Cross has announced that from now on the rule will be that men who haven’t had sex with another man in the past 12 months can donate blood.

This decision to change was made after officials in the BTS studied practices from other countries such as France, England, Australia, and the US.

For years, those countries have allowed for men who haven’t had gay sex in 12 months to donate blood without adverse effects.

Lee Cheuk Kwong via The Croucher Foundation

Dr Lee Cheuk-kwong, the chief executive and medical director of the BTS, stated that the data they studied convinced them that the risk after lowering the time to 12 months was not great.

“Previous studies showed that those men would be more honest in answering health assessment questions [after the change of policy],” said Dr. Lee. “The risk could be further reduced.”

Aids Concern, a charity group, praised the new change and said it was “a step forward,” but they also were adamant that the limit needs to be shortened even further.

This is also a great step for gay men in Hong Kong in general. A survey in June pointed Hong Kong out as one of the least gay-friendly cities for gay men to live.

Discrimination and misunderstanding is still prevalent in the region, but perhaps this will be the start to a better future.

h/t: South China Morning Post