Married same-sex partners will be allowed to own subsidised housing together in Hong Kong after a landmark High Court ruling on Friday, a major stride for LGBT rights in the financial hub.
Hong Kong 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 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-subsidised flat in 2018, a year after marrying Li in the United Kingdom.
The couple was not entitled to joint ownership under Hong Kong’s housing policy.