On 25 September 2017, the Hong Kong Court of Appeal passed down a unanimous decision judgment to allow a person, identified only as QT, to obtain a dependent visa through her same-sex partner who works in Hong Kong. The spousal visa in question previously was only granted by the Immigration Department to heterosexual couples.
The Court of Appeal ruled that it was a form of indirect discrimination for the Immigration Department to interpret “spouse” as either the man or the woman in a heterosexual marriage. They opted that homosexual couples should be able to produce the same certificated proof of relationship as heterosexual couples. Therefore, it was not rational to exclude homosexual couples based on administrative workability and convenience. The court also clarified that, even if the Immigration Department was to grant a dependent visa to QT, this action was not a formal and official validation of samesex unions. The chief judge of the court further recognized that there is a societal attitude change towards sexual minority rights.
If this decision is not appealed, it will have wide-ranging implications for global companies wanting to transfer homosexual employees to Hong Kong. This might be a catalyst for the government and lawmakers to reform and recognize same-sex relationships as a whole.