Hong Kong court rejects govt motion, says same-sex couples hold equal inheritance rights
A Hong Kong court has rejected a government motion that would have seen same sex-couples face differential treatment under two inheritance laws. The Court of Appeal said the move would constitute as unlawful discrimination – a verdict that is likely to impact many such couples from Hong Kong who married overseas. The development comes mere days after the same court upheld two earlier rulings that supported the granting of subsidized housing benefits to same-sex married partners.
“The differential treatment based on sexual orientation is apparent," Justice of Appeal Peter Cheung wrote in his judgment.
Meanwhile Justice of Appeal Thomas Au wrote that it was “an unacceptably harsh burden" on such couples.
Hong Kong currently recognizes same-sex marriage for certain reasons including taxation, civil service benefits and dependent visas. Legal challenges in recent years have also helped the LGBTQ community in Hong Kong eke out several government concessions and growing social acceptance of same-sex marriage. Earlier in September the city's top court had ruled that the government should provide a framework for recognizing same-sex partnerships.
The ruling on Tuesday involved a years-long battle fought by Henry Li and his late partner, Edgar Ng. The latter had bought a subsidised flat as his matrimonial home after their wedding in 2017. He however passed away in 2020 after suffering years of depression.
“It added insult to injury – that the government repeatedly argued in open court I am not Edgar’s husband and should be treated as a stranger to him, while I was still mourning," Li said via a statement issued by his solicitors.