Hong Kong will recognise overseas same-sex partnerships when granting dependent visas, the government announced on Tuesday. The new policy, which will come into effect from Wednesday, includes same-sex civil partnerships, same-sex civil unions, same-sex marriage, opposite-sex civil partnerships or opposite-sex civil unions entered into outside Hong Kong, reported Reuters.
Although homosexuality was decriminalised in 1991, Hong Kong does not recognise same-sex marriage.
As long as the person meets all immigration requirements, a dependent visa for such relationships would be valid in Hong Kong, said the government. “The policy allows those who are able to provide care and financial support to their dependents to sponsor their non-local dependants to come to reside in Hong Kong,” it said.
The revision comes after a British lesbian woman moved the Hong Kong’s top court after the immigration department rejected her application for a dependant visa on the grounds that Hong Kong did not allow same-sex marriage. The woman, who had entered into a civil partnership in Britain, was seeking to move there after her partner was offered a job.
In July, the top court unanimously ruled that the department grant her a spousal visa, a document which allows dependents to work without having to procure a separate visa. The judgement was a shot in the arm for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer community.
However, the government said the revised policy would only be applicable for the entry of non-local dependants, reported the South China Morning Post. “It [the revision] does not affect any other policies of the government or other rights under the existing law in Hong Kong,” said a government statement.
An unnamed government spokesperson said that a valid marriage under Hong Kong law is “heterosexual and monogamous and is not a status open to couples of the same sex”.