This new policy means that the other party to a same-sex partnership will be able to apply to join their same-sex partner, who has been admitted into Hong Kong, for residence in Hong Kong as a dependant.

Such applications for admission of a dependant will be favourably considered by the Director of Immigration if the individuals meet the normal immigration requirements. As is the case with heterosexual marriages, there should be reasonable proof of a genuine relationship between the applicant and the sponsor; no known record to the detriment of the applicant; and the sponsor should be able to support the dependant’s living at a standard well above the subsistence level and be able to provide him/her with suitable accommodation in Hong Kong.

This revision to the Immigration Department’s policy, which prior to Wednesday only allowed the other party to heterosexual marriages to apply to join their spouse in the country as a dependant, follows the landmark ruling in the Court of Final Appeal in July regarding a British lesbian identified as QT. QT was initially denied entry into Hong Kong as a dependant of her same-sex partner, who had entered Hong Kong to take up employment, on the basis that their civil partnership was not recognised in Hong Kong. The highest court unanimously decided that the Director of Immigration was wrong to deny QT a dependant visa on that basis.

This policy change has been welcomed by advocates but the Government has been quick to clarify that this does not affect any other policies of the government or other rights under the existing law in Hong Kong.