The Hong Kong LGBTQ+ community has scored a huge win after a gay widower won a massive case against the government.
On Friday (25 June), the high court ruled that married same-sex couples in Hong Kong are now allowed to own government subsided housing together.
The case referred to married couple Henry Li and Edgar Ng. After Ng passed away in 2020, Li was unable to inherit the government subsided flat Ng purchased due to Hong Kong’s restrictions regarding LGBTQ+ couples.
Justice Anderson Chow, the judge who presided over the case, stated that denying the couple joint occupancy and ownership rights was in violation of Hong Kong’s basic law, its Bill of Rights and the city’s constitution.
Before his death, Ng had already filed two judicial review proceedings against the Hong Kong government. The first one sought equal rights for LGBTQ+ couples in subsidised housing and the second one took aim at the inheritance and intestacy laws.
The court ruled in favour of Ng and granted him and Li equal ownership of their house. After the ruling was announced the government attempted to appeal the decision.
In an interview with Hong Kong Free Press earlier this year, Li opened up about the case and the emotional toll of these anti-LGBTQ+ laws.
“When your spouse dies, you expect dignity for your spouse and yourself,” he said. “You expect that you will be allowed and empowered to carry out your duties to your spouses such as identifying their body, arranging their funeral and arranging their cremation or burial.
“All of these rights are protected y law but they are denied to married same-sex couples. This kind of discrimination is not acceptable in our society.”
He also revealed the pushback he received from Ng’s mother, who demanded Li return all of his husband’s possessions and documents to her.
Even with this incredible win, the fight for LGBTQ+ rights in Hong Kong continues.
Homosexuality is legal in Hong Kong, but same-sex marriage and civil unions are not recognised, and the country falls behind with anti-discrimination laws in non-government jobs, adoption and surrogacy.
Despite this, Hong Kong made history in 2019 by becoming the first Asian city to host the Gay Games, over competing bids from Washington DC and Guadalajara, in Mexico.