October 18, 2019 / 8:12 AM / a month ago

Hong Kong court rules against same-sex civil partnerships

HONG KONG, Oct 18 (Reuters) - A Hong Kong court upheld a ban on same-sex marriage and civil union partnerships on Friday after a lesbian identified as ‘MK’ launched the city’s first judicial challenge on the issue, stating it violated her constitutional rights.

The decision came as rights group Amnesty International said the ground breaking case could have huge repercussions for the relationships of LGBT people in Hong Kong.

The Court of First Instance ruled that the government was not obliged to provide an alternative legal framework such as civil unions, giving same-sex couples the equal rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex married couples.

The court said that, while there are diverse and opposing views in society, it expressed “no view on the associated social, moral and/or religious issues” and that it had adopted a strict legal approach to the matter. Homosexuality has been decriminalized since 1991 in Hong Kong, a former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997. The city has an annual pride parade and lively gay scene.

It does not, however, recognise same-sex marriage and LGBT+ activists voice concerns about widespread discrimination. Hong Kong’s top court in June ruled in favour of a gay civil servant fighting for spousal and tax benefits for his husband.

Reporting by Farah Master; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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