Hong Kong’s high court is urging the Chinese territory’s legislature to create an “alternative legal framework” that would recognize same-sex partnerships.
The Court of Final Appeal ruled Tuesday on a lawsuit filed by pro-democracy activist Jimmy Sham, who has been seeking to have his 2013 marriage to a same-sex partner in New York legally recognized, but has been rejected by two lower courts.
The high court refused to recognize full marriage equality for homosexual couples but said the government had a responsibility “to provide them with a sense of legitimacy, dispelling any sense that they belong to an inferior class of persons whose relationship is undeserving of recognition.”
The court order gives the government two years to legally recognize same-sex civil unions. The ruling is the first time the court has directly addressed the issue.
Some business groups in Hong Kong have backed campaigns by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) groups to have same-sex marriage recognized in the Asian financial hub as a means of attracting top talent.
Sham is one of dozens of pro-democracy activists who are imprisoned and facing trial for violating Hong Kong’s national security law imposed by the Chinese government in 2020 by taking part in an unofficial primary election.
Some information for this report came from Reuters, Agence France-Presse.