Ambiguous ruling

Helen Davidson “Hong Kong’s top court rules in favour of legal recognition for same-sex couples”

香港のLGBT民主化活動家、岑子杰(Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit)氏は、2013年に、自分が2013年に紐育で行った同性の夫との結婚を香港当局は承認するべきだと訴訟を起こしていたが、9月初めに香港の終審法院は、「結婚をヘテロセクシュアルカップルに限定する現行法」に対する同氏の異議及び外国での同性婚姻の承認については棄却したものの、政府に対しては「同性カップルの権利を法的に承認するための結婚へのオルタナティヴ」を2年以内に準備するよう勧告した。これによって、香港は同性カップルに対する「シヴィル・ユニオン」の承認への道を歩み出した。

Previous courts had dismissed all three grounds for appeal in 2020 and 2022. On Tuesday, the court’s panel of judges were unanimous in upholding the current laws, which restrict marriage to heterosexual couples, and which do not recognise overseas same-sex unions. However, they were split 3-2 in their opinions on the second question.

Justices Joseph Fok, RAV Ribeiro and Patrick Keane said the need for same-sex couples to have access to legal recognition of their relationship had been “compellingly advocated”.

“First, such recognition is required to meet basic social needs similar to those experienced by different-sex couples in stable relationships,” they said. “Secondly, the absence of legal recognition has been seen to be essentially discriminatory and demeaning to same-sex couples.”

The judges noted potential difficulties for long-term couples during medical care, or disposing of mixed assets at the end of a relationship. It said the formation of a new framework brought many questions, including who would have access to it and how it would govern property rights, legal authority, and relationship dissolution, but said fears that it would be unworkable were “unfounded”.

The ruling is the first time the court of final appeal has directly addressed same-sex marriage. Homosexuality was decriminalised in 1991 and legal challenges have pushed an otherwise unenthusiastic government*1 to make improvements in some rights for same-sex couples*2.


Recent polling has found support for same-sex marriage has grown from 38% to more than 60% in a decade; however, activism of any kind has become increasingly difficult under the government’s security crackdown after the 2018 pro-democracy protests. Sham is in jail on charges under the national security law. He was among the 47 activists, campaigners, and politicians arrested over informal primaries that were later declared illegal.

The Hong Kong government is increasingly tied to the central government in China, where there is a growing crackdown on LGBTQ+ groups under the rule of Xi Jinping*3.