Great News For Marriage Equality But The Struggle Continues in Hong Kong

More good news for the global LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer) community and their supporters to nicely wrap up 2017: Australia’s parliament has passed a bill today (December 7, 2017), almost unanimously, to allow two people, regardless of sex, to marry. Same-sex couples in the country have been – after a hard, long fight – afforded marriage equality.
 
Earlier in the week, the Constitutional Court in the European country of Austria declared the law that restricts same-sex unions to civil partnerships discriminatory, setting in motion a legislative process that will see same-sex marriage legalised by early 2019.
 
In May, the top court in Taiwan also ruled in favour of marriage equality and ordered the passage of legislation to address the issue within two years. 
 
But what has happened this week in Canberra is especially significant to Hong Kong: the city is home to an estimated 100,000 Australian passport holders. This also comes as a time when Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal has granted the Immigration Department permission to appeal the case of QT, a lesbian expatriate from the UK who overturned the government’s refusal to grant her a spousal visa.
 
The Court of Appeal is also set to rule on the government’s appeal against a High Court ruling that entitles the spouse of Angus Leung, a gay civil servant, to the same benefits as his heterosexual counterparts.
 
The Pink Alliance finds it regrettable that, while the the world is moving forward on protecting the human rights of LGBTIQ people, Hong Kong tax dollars are being spent on denying same-sex couples living in the city marriage equality and social rights enjoyed by opposite-sex relationships. Such inequality existing in the law undermines Hong Kong’s status as an international city and the spirit of “All Hong Kong residents shall be equal before the law” unshrined in the Basic Law.
 
And we agree with Australian MP Linda Burney, who delivered a heart-felt speech during the marriage equality bill debate saying she found it “disgusting” to force “LGBTIQ loved ones to beg for their own civil rights.”
 
We urge that the Hong Kong Government reviews laws that are unjust to sexual minorities and takes steps to make the city a fair and welcoming place for the LGBTIQ people.