The Court of Final Appeal has heard that same-sex marriage involves an intimate relationship no different from heterosexual marriages and should not be discriminated against, as a landmark hearing began on Tuesday over a gay official's complaint over spousal benefits.
Immigration officer Leung Chun-kwong took his case to the top court after the Court of Appeal overturned a High Court decision in his favour. Leung had brought legal action against the Director of Immigration's decision to deny spousal benefits to his partner Scott Adams, who he married in New Zealand in 2014.
The officer was not allowed to apply for the benefits for his husband, nor opt for joint tax assessment, because the government's position is that same-sex marriage is not recognised in Hong Kong.
Leung's lawyer, Queen’s Counsel Karon Monaghan, told the court that her client’s marriage involves an intimate, family relationship no different from any other heterosexual marriage and therefore he should not be discriminated against.
She added that the government's employment code of conduct promotes equality for all staff, and the exclusion of same-sex marriages in certain policy areas would be inappropriate and unreasonable.
But the lawyer representing the government, Lord Pannick QC, told the court that the only form of marriage recognised in the SAR is one that is between a man and a woman.
He argued that if same-sex marriages were recognised, this would “chisel away” and undermine the special status of marriage in Hong Kong.
Same-sex marriage no different, top court hears
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