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Hong Kong court ruling overturns anti-LGBT housing policy

The territory does not recognize same-sex marriage but individual couples can challenge discriminatory policies in court

AFP, Hong Kong

AFP, Hong Kong

Published: June 25, 2021 07:57 AM GMT

Updated: June 25, 2021 08:03 AM GMT

Hong Kong court ruling overturns anti-LGBT housing policy

Married same-sex partners will be allowed to own subsidized housing together in Hong Kong after a landmark High Court ruling on June 25, a major stride for LGBT rights in the financial hub.

The Chinese territory does not recognise same-sex marriage but individual couples can challenge discriminatory policies in court.

Hong Kong's subsidised housing policies, which do not acknowledge same-sex partners as a tenant's family member, "constitute unlawful discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation," the court said.

The case was a second victory for gay couple Henry Li and his deceased partner Edgar Ng against the city's government after a 2020 ruling allowing same-sex couples equal rights to inheritance.

Ng, who suffered from depression, took his own life in December. The case was filed before his death in 2019 but hearings began in April 2021.

Justice Anderson Chow said city housing policies that denied same-sex partners joint occupancy and ownership rights were in violation of the Basic Law, the city's mini-constitution, and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights.

Ng bought a government-subsidized flat in 2018, a year after marrying Li in the United Kingdom

Ng challenged the city's inheritance and intestacy laws last year, concerned that if he died without a will his property would not be passed on to his partner.

Justice Chow, who also presided over that case, concluded the exclusion of same-sex spouses from inheritance rights was "unlawful discrimination".

Ng bought a government-subsidized flat in 2018, a year after marrying Li in the United Kingdom.

The couple were not entitled to joint ownership under Hong Kong's housing policy.

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