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Hong Kong to recognize same-sex partnerships in spousal visa applications

For the first time, Hong Kong will recognize overseas same-sex partnerships when granting dependant visas.

IMAGE FROM PIXABAY.COM

Change has come.

For the first time, Hong Kong will recognize overseas same-sex partnerships when granting dependant visas. This was announced by the government after a review prompted by a Court of Final Appeal ruling in July, at the end of a legal battle, that a married British lesbian – identified as QT – should be granted a spousal visa. She was initially denied.

QT and her partner, known as SS, moved to Hong Kong in 2011 after SS got a job in the city. The couple entered into a civil partnership in Britain, which gave them the same rights and responsibilities as a married couple under British law.

But the Hong Kong Immigration Department rejected QT’s application for a dependant visa, stating that Hong Kong does not recognize same-sex relationships. The pair took the case to court, arguing that the decision was discriminatory and breached the Basic Law and the Bill of Rights Ordinance.

The Court of First Instance ruled against QT in March 2016. This ruling was appealed by QT. The Court of Appeal reversed the decision last year. The Immigration Department filed an appeal, and the Court of Final Appeal made a ruling in July in favor of QT.

Starting Wednesday (September 19, 2018), the director of immigration will already favorably consider an application from a person who has entered into “a same-sex civil partnership, same-sex civil union, same-sex marriage, or opposite-sex civil partnership or opposite-sex civil union outside Hong Kong” for entry for residence as a dependant, if the person meets the normal immigration requirements.

To qualify, there should be “reasonable proof of a genuine relationship between the applicant and the sponsor”, “no known record to the detriment of the applicant”, and evidence that “the sponsor is able to support the dependant’s living at a standard well above the subsistence level and provide him/her with suitable accommodation in Hong Kong”.

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