Hong Kong government ordered to recognise same-sex partnerships

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Hong Kong’s top court has ordered the country’s government to legally recognise same-sex relationships, but stopped short of demands for full marriage equality.

Five judges on the Court of Final Appeal ruled on Tuesday (5 September) that Hong Kong’s government was failing to fulfil its constitutional duty to provide an alternative system for legal recognition of same-sex partnerships. 

This is the first time the court has directly addressed same-sex marriage. 

In its judgement, the court ruled that LGBTQ+ couples needed to have a “sense of legitimacy which dispels any sense of them belonging to an inferior class of person whose committed and stable relationships are undeserving of recognition”.

The government, which has shown little appetite for championing LGBTQ+ rights, was given two years to enact a scheme. However, the court unanimously dismissed an appeal in relation to bringing forward full marriage equality and recognition of same-sex marriages performed abroad. 

Homosexuality was decriminalised in Hong Kong in 1991, and legal challenges have pushed the government to make improvements in terms of rights for LGBTQ+ people in general, and for same-sex couples. 

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