Hong Kong Grants Same-Sex Couples Equal Visa Rights

AP Photo/Vincent Yu
The annual Gay Pride Parade in Hong Kong on Nov. 25, 2017.

On Wednesday (July 4), the LGBTQ community of Hong Kong witnessed a landmark achievement. The city’s highest court ruled that same-sex couples have the same rights to spousal visas as heterosexual couples, a victory years in the making.

Originally entering the legal system in 2014, a British woman brought the case to Hong Kong’s Court of Appeal after being refused a spousal visa months into her civil partnership. Her partner, who is of British and South African nationality, had recently taken up a job and residency in “Asia’s world city.”

Largely roadblocked by China's traditional definition of marriage, legal teams took years to fight the case. Eventually, the Court of Final Appeal ruled unanimously in the plaintiff's favor on grounds that the refusal indirectly discriminated against her based on sexuality.

“Hong Kong is an international, cosmopolitan city, so it’s not surprising that views are becoming more progressive over time,” Kelley Loper, an associate professor at the University of Hong Kong, told The New York Times.

This ruling follows a 2017 survey Loper helped conduct that revealed that over half of Hong Kong’s residents support same-sex marriage. Activists hope this is just the tip of the iceberg for recognition and full-scale equality for queer people in the metropolitan city.

“This judgment is a milestone for Hong Kong and a watershed moment,” Jan Wetzel, senior legal adviser at Amnesty International, said.

Read the final official court ruling here.