Hong Kong court upholds ban on same-sex civil partnerships

by Reuters
Friday, 18 October 2019 09:16 GMT

General view of a city skyline during anti-government protests in Hong Kong, China, October 18, 2019. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

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Homosexuality has been decriminalized since 1991 in Hong Kong but activists voiced concerns about widespread discrimination

HONG KONG, Oct 18 (Reuters) - A Hong Kong court upheld a ban on same-sex marriage and civil union partnerships on Friday after a lesbian identified as 'MK' launched the city's first judicial challenge on the issue, stating it violated her constitutional rights.

Rights group Amnesty International described the judgement as a "bitter blow" for LGBT+ people in Hong Kong.

"Sadly, the discriminatory treatment of same-sex couples will continue for the time being," Amnesty said in a statement.

The Court of First Instance ruled that the government was not obliged to provide an alternative legal framework such as civil unions, giving same-sex couples the equal rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex married couples.

The court said that, while there are diverse and opposing views in society, it expressed "no view on the associated social, moral and/or religious issues" and that it had adopted a strict legal approach to the matter.

Homosexuality has been decriminalized since 1991 in Hong Kong, a former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997. The city has an annual pride parade and lively gay scene.

It does not, however, recognise same-sex marriage and LGBT+ activists voice concerns about widespread discrimination. Hong Kong's top court in June ruled in favour of a gay civil servant fighting for spousal and tax benefits for his husband.

(Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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