Hong Kong’s Court of Appeals has ruled that the government must provide a legal framework to recognize same-sex partnerships.
In Hong Kong, the constitution only recognizes “marriage” as being between between a man and a woman.
The move comes after Jimmy Sham, a pro-democracy activist, sued the government for not recognizing same-sex marriage.
Sham married his partner in the USA in 2013, but his marriage is not recognized in Hong Kong.
Sham, who is currently in prison under the national security law, argued that this is unconstitutional and brought the case forward in 2018.
On Sep. 6, the court ruled that the government must provide a legal framework to recognize same-sex partnerships as there are currently no options like civil unions.
However, it still did not recognize that its ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
The government now has two years to create an alternative legal framework that will protect same-sex couples’ rights and “provide them with a sense of legitimacy, dispelling any sense that they belong to an inferior class of persons whose relationship is undeserving of recognition.”
Recently, Hong Kong has given same-sex couples some of the same rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples, such as taxation and dependent visas, but never full recognition.
Human rights and LGBTQ organizations have called the ruling a step forward, but are calling for the government to fully recognize and legalize same-sex marriage.