Gay couple sue for right to marry in Hong Kong

Hong Kong Pride

A gay couple have filed a lawsuit to legalise equal marriage in Hong Kong.

The two men, aged 21 and 31, lodged a claim at Hong Kong’s high court, arguing that not allowing same-sex couples to marry is a violation of their right to equality under the autonomous territory’s Bill of Rights and basic law, reports South China Morning Post. 

The 21-year-old University Hong Kong student and the 31-year-old activist have mounted two separate legal challenges in a bid to be allowed to marry.

Equal marriage is still illegal in Hong Kong.

Same-sex marriage remains illegal in Hong Kong

The autonomous region also does not recognise civil unions, although, in 2009, the Hong Kong Government gave limited protection to cohabitating gay couples as part of its Domestic Violence Ordinance.

In recent years there have been a number of court cases challenging the prohibition of same-sex marriage in Hong Kong.

In September, Hong Kong has made spousal visas available to same-sex couples following a landmark court ruling in favour of a lesbian couple.

Court challenges piling pressure on Hong Kong lawmakers to legalise same-sex marriage

But the government ruled out legalising same-sex marriage.

In November, lawmakers in Hong Kong have narrowly rejected a bill that would have opened up the doors for same-sex civil unions.

Raymond Chan, Hong Kong’s first openly gay lawmaker, put a bill before the autonomous region’s legislative council paved the way for the gay civil unions.

People take part in Hong Kong's annual Pride parade

Participants hold a large rainbow flag as they take part in the annual Hong Kong pride parade on November 17, 2018. (YAN ZHAO/AFP/Getty)

But the bill, which contained few concrete provisions, was rejected in a 27-24 vote in the city legislature.

Research has suggested that people living in Hong Kong are in favour of equal marriage being legalised.

In July, a report revealed that more than half of people in Hong Kong agree with same-sex marriage.

According to the research, published by the Centre for Comparative and Public Law, some 50.4 percent of Hong Kong residents surveyed in 2017 “expressed agreement” with gay couples tying the knot.

This marks a significant shift in public opinion, with the report also revealing that, in 2013, less than four in 10 (38 percent) of people in Hong Kong agreed that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.

Hong Kong-based respondents were first surveyed in 2013, and later in 2017, for the report.

“Our study shows that support for the rights of same-sex couples has grown markedly over a short period,” said professor Yiu-tung Suen. “A few years’ time has made a significant difference.”