Hong Kong: Lesbian couple’s IVF legal victory a ‘giant step forward for rainbow families’

Participants of Hong Kong's annual pride parade march with a giant rainbow flag

A Hong Kong court has sided with a married lesbian couple who fought for both women to have parental status over their child born through reciprocal IVF. 

Reciprocal IVF for lesbians enables both women to participate in the pregnancy, with one supplying her egg and the other bearing the child. 

In 2022, after the Hong Kong government recognised only one of the mums as the legal parent to their son, the couple – who underwent reciprocal IVF in South Africa to have their child – launched a legal challenge.

Same-sex marriages and civil partnerships are not recognised under Hong Kong law, meaning same-sex couples are not afforded the same rights as their straight counterparts.

On Friday (15 September), judge Queeny Au-Yeung began to balance the scales as she ruled that the government’s non-recognition was a form of discrimination against the couple’s son.

The judge wrote in her ruling that the child was “discriminated as to his birth in the sense that, unlike other children, he does not have a co-parent, genetically linked to him”.

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Judge Au-Yeung added that making the mum legally recognised as a “parent at common law” would align her legal status with reality. Both parents were granted anonymity by the court.

“The court should be astute to the changing world where people build families in different manners other than through a married or heterosexual relationship,” the judge added. 

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Lawyer Evelyn Tsao, who represented one of the women, said the ruling was “one giant step for the rainbow families in our LGBTQ community”.

“For the first time, the court expressly states that children of same-sex couples are discriminated by the current legislation,” Tsao told AFP.

Support for same-sex marriage is at an all-time high in Hong Kong, with 60 per cent of people now believing the law should be changed.

This month, Hong Kong’s top court directly addressed same-sex marriage for the first time, ordering the country’s government to legally recognise same-sex relationships, but stopping short of demanding full marriage equality.

Five judges on the Court of Final Appeal ruled that the government was failing to fulfil its constitutional duty to provide an alternative system for legal recognition of same-sex partnerships. 

The Hong Kong mothers’ win comes as lesbian mums in Italy have been left devastated by the removal of their name from their baby’s birth certificate, with a couple impacted calling on the Italian government to “think of the families [left living in] fear”. 

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