Has the time come for Hong Kong to legalise same-sex marriage?

By Dr. Karen Lee

Three controversial bills which would allow gay citizens to marry and adopt are going through Taiwan’s legislative process will, if passed, make it the first Asian – and Chinese – society to legalise same-sex marriage.

Has the time come for Hong Kong to face this issue?

First recognised in the Netherlands in 2001 and now legal in more than 20 countries, same-sex marriage attracted local attention in 2012 after the coming-out of a newly elected legislator and two pop singers who went on to form an organisation that promotes LGBT rights. That coincided with the Equal Opportunities Commission’s call in November for a public consultation on enacting a sexual orientation anti-discrimination law. The move prompted some faith-based groups to voice their concerns, which culminated in a 50,000-strong rally outside government headquarters in January 2013.

same-sex marriage attracted local attention in 2012 after the coming-out of a newly elected legislator and two pop singers who went on to form an organisation that promotes LGBT rights.

In the 2013 case of W v Registrar of Marriages, the Court of Final Appeal allowed a post-operative transsexual woman to marry in her newly acquired sex. Despite the narrowly worded judgment, the fact that it unlinked marriage from procreation and allowed a “biological” male to marry another male raised concerns over its implications for the institution of marriage. In June 2014, the British Consulate asked the government to allow it to solemnise same-sex marriages – legal in the UK – for British nationals in Hong Kong, a service that it already provided in a number of countries including China, Russia, and Azerbaijan, but to no avail.

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Dr Karen Lee is an assistant professor with Education University of Hong Kong’s Department of Social Sciences

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