In a unanimous decision made on 25 September, the Court of Appeal ruled that the Immigration Department’s refusal to issue a dependant visa to the lesbian civil partner of a British expat was not rational.
The Immigration Department had argued homosexual relationships could not be evaluated as reliably as heterosexual ones; the Court found this argument irrational because same-sex civil partnerships and marriages are documented, and therefore verifiable, in the same way as heterosexual marriages. The Court concluded that immigration authorities had “failed to justify the indirect discrimination [suffered] on account of sexual orientation.”
The Immigration Department and the woman, who is identified only as QT, are required to submit an agreement to the court within 28 days.
The ruling has led to speculation that Hong Kong’s laws might change to better protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and to perhaps recognise same-sex relationships in law.