This Tuesday, September 5, the Supreme Court of Hong Kong ruled that the local government should provide a legal framework to recognize unions of citizens of the LGBTIQ+ community. It is a historic step in which the island’s highest court supports same-sex unions, although not marriage. Their verdict came in response to a lawsuit filed by activist Jimmy Sham.
An unprecedented ruling in Hong Kong. The island’s Supreme Court issued a verdict urging the local government to recognize civil unions between people of the same sex.
However, the court refrained from recognizing the full right to marriage of the LGBTIQ+ community, a partial but hopeful victory for that group, Amnesty International highlighted.
By majority and in a written ruling, the judges of the highest judicial instance declared that the Government is violating its obligation to establish an alternative framework for the legal recognition of same-sex couples, such as registered civil unions or civil unions .
“The absence of legal recognition of your relationship may disrupt and degrade your private life together in ways that constitute arbitrary interference,” Justice Patrick Keane wrote.
The ruling comes in response to a lawsuit brought by pro-democracy activist Jimmy Shamwhich for five years has waged a legal battle for the recognition of same-sex marriage.
Sham, who married her husband in New York in 2013, argued that Hong Kong laws that do not recognize those ties violate the constitutional right to equality.
Although the superior court did not support these types of marriages with its ruling, it does urge the authorities to provide legal recognition to these couples to protect their rights.
“P“It could be the beginning of a more equal society in Hong Kong.”
Equality advocates among citizens highlight that the ruling is a step forward and will have strong implications for the lives of the LGBTIQ+ community. Also for the reputation of the island, recognized as one of the largest financial centers in the world, which could now be perceived as an inclusive and suitable place to reside and work, they point out.
Amnesty International assured that although this is a partial victory, “it is an important step and a hopeful moment for the LGBTI community in Hong Kong, long deprived of equal rights due to outdated and discriminatory laws.”
The human rights group stressed that it is “regrettable” that the laws in Hong Kong consider that the constitutional right of marriage is limited to couples formed by people of different sexes.
Hong Kong’s LGBTI people have long been denied equal rights due to outdated laws.
Today’s ruling that the government must provide a legal framework for the recognition of same-sex relationships is a step in the right direction 🌈
— Amnesty International (@amnesty) September 5, 2023
However, he indicated that it is notable that the Supreme Court requires the Government to provide formal and general legal recognition to same-sex couples to protect their rights and recognize their legitimacy.
“Today may be the beginning of a more equal society in Hong Kong, but there is still a long way to go. Now it is essential that the Government does not delay compliance with the sentence as a first step to guarantee full equality for LGBTI people,” she emphasized.
Lawyers and activists emphasize that the ruling could potentially force changes by the government and institutions of the semi-autonomous island and lead to the creation of a new legal regime that allows legal routes of inheritance and insurance for these couples, as well as tax relief, among others. other rights.
They also emphasize that the decision could influence Asian financial centers, from Tokyo to Singapore, to draft more inclusive laws as an attraction for the diverse and global talent that multinational corporations, from banks to technology giants, are trying to hire and retain.
China, which controls the island, decriminalized homosexuality in 1997 and removed it from its list of mental illnesses in 2001, but same-sex marriage is not recognized and there are currently no official legal protections.
With Reuters and AP
Source: France 24