Recognition of Same-Sex Couples in Hong Kong : A Major Development

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Recognition of Same-Sex Couples in Hong Kong: A Major Development

Hong Kong’s Court of Appeal has made a landmark decision, saying the government must establish a legal framework for the recognition of same-sex partnerships.

Historical Context: Marriage in Hong Kong

Historically, in Hong Kong, the constitution only recognizes “marriage” between a man and a woman. This traditional perspective was tested when Jimmy Sham, a pro-democracy activist, challenged the government.

Jimmy Sham: An Activist at the Heart of Change

After marrying her partner in the United States in 2013, Sham discovered that her marriage was not recognized in Hong Kong. Although he is currently in prison under the national security law, he argued that this non-recognition was unconstitutional and launched the case in 2018.

Court Decision: Towards Equal Rights

On September 6, the court ruled in favor of recognizing same-sex partnerships, highlighting the absence of options like civil unions. However, it did not consider the ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional.

Next Steps for Hong Kong

The government now has two years to develop a legal framework that will protect the rights of same-sex couples. Although Hong Kong has recently granted certain rights to same-sex couples, full recognition is still lacking.

Regional Perspective: Asia and Same-Sex Marriage

Human rights and LGBTQ organizations see the move as a step forward. In 2019, Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. In August 2022, Singapore lifted the ban on same-sex relationships, although same-sex marriage remains illegal there.

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