Author: Shannon Power
Hong Kong’s Immigration Department has started issuing visas to same-sex couples, making the equal to heterosexual couples.
The move comes after a historic High Court win by a British lesbian, known as QT. She first took the department to court in 2013 to try and get a dependent visa. She battled the department’s decision to give her a tourist visa, even though her wife had got a job in Hong Kong.
QT and the department spent years embroiled in a legal battle. She fought the department to get a dependent visa, which is eligible to heterosexual couples.
Last year, she won the historic case after the Court of Appeal ruled in her favour.
‘An unmarried couple, whether heterosexual or homosexual, in a stable, long term and committed relationship can have exactly the same sort of interdependent relationship as a married couple,’ the Justices wrote in their ruling.
But the Immigration Department has appealed the decision and its court hearing is on June 4.
The visas might not stay
In the meantime, the department has started issuing the ‘out of policy’ visas to same-sex couples pending the court’s decision.
The visas allow partner’s to have resident status, have a Hong Kong national ID card, take up employment or education.
Vidler & Co Solicitors who have represented QT throughout her legal battles issued a statement about the decision.
‘The result of the Court of Final Appeal hearing on June 4, 2018 will determine whether these ‘out of policy’ visas will subsequently be converted into Dependant Visas after 12 months or whether the Immigration Department will revert back to only granting Prolonged Visitor (tourist) Visas to same-sex spouses of HK residents,’