British lesbian wins appeal over spousal visa in Hong Kong

Updated 2017-09-26 10:00:52 Xinhua

The Court of Appeal of Hong Kong High Court handed down a judgment on Monday in which a British lesbian won a landmark appeal against the Immigration Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government to acquire a spousal visa to Hong Kong.

The woman, known as QT, applied a judicial review last year after the Immigration Department refused to grant her a dependant visa through her same-sex partner who was working in Hong Kong. The High Court later dismissed her application.

QT then appealed to the High Court in June and request the same immigration documents previously only granted to heterosexual couples by the HKSAR government.

The Immigration Department said the refusal was because it did not recognize same-sex marriage. But QT argued that the department's decision had discriminated against her sexual orientation.

According to the law of Hong Kong, same-sex marriage or civil unions are not recognized.

QT moved to Hong Kong in late 2011 with her same-sex partner, known as SS. They are registered as legal civil partnership in the United Kingdom. The Immigration Department granted her a work visa, but she insisted on getting a visa for residence in Hong Kong as a dependant.

In a 68-page judgment reached unanimously, three judges of the Court of Appeal said the Immigration Department had failed to demonstrate the visa scheme had been put in place rationally.

"The director (of Immigration) has therefore failed to justify the indirect discrimination on account of sexual orientation that QT suffers," the judges wrote.

The Immigration Department said in reply to Xinhua on Monday evening that it is carefully reviewing the judgment and will consider further actions by consulting legal advice.

The Court of Final Appeal of Hong Kong ruled in 2013 that a trans-sexual woman has the right to marry her boyfriend in her affirmed gender.

However, the Legislative Council of the HKSAR later voted down a bill, which proposes recognition of trans-gender marriage, submitted by the HKSAR government to revise Hong Kong's Marriage Ordinance.

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