Hong Kong’s high court docket hears landmark attraction on spousal visa for British lesbian

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong’s high court docket on Monday started listening to the ultimate attraction of a landmark LGBT rights case that has garnered public help from greater than 30 high global banks and regulation companies, together with Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

Marriage is legally outlined as a monogamous union between a person and a girl in Hong Kong, the place the lesbian, homosexual, bisexual and transgender group’s battle for authorized rights has acquired help from multinational firms.

A British lesbian, often known as QT, sued the director of immigration for denying her a spousal visa after her associate moved to the Chinese-ruled monetary hub for work, regardless that that they had entered right into a civil partnership in Britain.

The government filed an attraction after QT gained the case on the Court of Appeal in September.

The immigration coverage was discriminatory because it positioned homosexual at a big drawback, QT’s lawyer, Dinah Rose, QC, instructed Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal.

“Every single gay couple is unable to comply with the policy,” she mentioned.

It was “unprecedented” that so many non-public firms utilized to intervene in a human rights case, regardless that the court docket had dismissed their software, she added.

“The businesses are concerned the discriminatory way…is impeding their ability to recruit the best people, gay or straight, to work in Hong Kong, so Hong Kong can compete and thrive in an international market,” Rose mentioned.

Hong Kong’s director of immigration was not obliged to recognise same-sex marriages as a result of present Hong Kong legal guidelines don’t achieve this, mentioned Lord David Pannick, QC, representing the government.

“He may choose to go further than that, but he has no duty to do so,” Pannick, who appeared towards the British government within the Article 50 Brexit case, instructed the panel of 5 Hong Kong judges.

Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma, nonetheless, mentioned the immigration official’s principled method on marriage was “inconsistent”, as some polygamous get exceptions, in addition to same-sex spouses of consular workers.

“It does call into question…whether this sort of difference in treatment is actually right, whether it is fair,” Ma mentioned.

Last week, a Hong Kong court docket dominated that the husband of a male civil servant was not entitled to spousal advantages, overturning a landmark decrease court docket ruling in a setback for town’s LGBT group.

There isn’t any regulation towards discrimination primarily based on sexual orientation within the former British colony that returned to Chinese rule with wide-ranging autonomy, together with a free judiciary, in 1997.

Reporting by Venus Wu; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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