Hong Kong’s Immigration Department has lost a longtime battle over the rights of same-sex couples.
A British lesbian named QT has been fighting with the government since 2011 in order to get the same visa and immigration rights as straight couples.
Having married her partner in a UK civil partnership years before they moved tp Hong Kong in 2011, QT applied for a dependent visa during the transition. Unfortunately, the Hong Kong Immigration Department denied that visa as Hong Kong does not recognize same-sex relationships.
With QT’s partner moving to the city for a new job and the visa request denied, QT had to live there on a tourist visa which meant she couldn’t work, get subsidized public hospital services, or permanently live there.
As such, QT started a long court battle with the Immigration Department that led to her victory at the lower appeal court in September of 2017. The court ruled in favor of the couple’s British civil partnership being recognized in Hong Kong for a dependent visa.
Of course, the Hong Kong Immigration Department then appealed that ruling and the Court of Final Appeal started its hearing in June.
That court case has now closed with QT walking out the victor. The ruling was unanimous that denying QT a dependent visa was unconstitutional.
“Today’s ruling by the Court of Final Appeal affirms what millions of us in this wonderful and vibrant city know to be true, that discrimination based on sexual orientation… is offensive and demeaning – it offends against Hong Kong’s core values and undermines the rule of law,” QT said after the ruling in one of her first public statements.
Hong Kong is an international city that heavily relies on workers and companies from other nations. As such, the need to support workers of all walks, like same-sex couples, is beneficial to the city.
But not only does this ruling support same-sex couples looking to immigrate, it opens a door for all same-sex couples living there. This ruling now signifies the first time that Hong Kong officially recognizes same-sex couples. This could be a major turning point in gay rights for its citizens.
This ruling also comes at the same time that a new survey published by the Centre for Comparative and Public Law found that 50.4 percent of Hong Kong’s residents in 2017 support same-sex marriage.
It seems, there’s a shift happening in Hong Kong and same-sex couples are benefiting.