• Sun
  • Dec 28, 2014
  • Updated: 4:43pm
NewsHong Kong

Transsexual woman in last bid to wed boyfriend

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 April, 2013, 2:27pm
UPDATED : Monday, 15 April, 2013, 11:51pm

Hong Kong’s highest court on Monday began hearing the final appeal of a transsexual woman who is seeking to wed her boyfriend, in a potentially groundbreaking case.

The woman, who was born as a man, is known only as “W” under anonymity rules and now in her 30s. She is seeking to overturn earlier rulings that said marriage is only allowed between couples who were of the opposite sex at birth.

She has argued that she has undergone government-subsidised sex change surgery and had her gender altered on her identity card since she launched the legal battle – the first such case in Hong Kong – in 2010.

The city’s Registrar of Marriages had ruled that W could not marry her boyfriend because her birth certificate – which cannot be changed under Hong Kong law – says that she is still a man.

“We say the laws of marriage can and should recognise that sexual identity can change,” W’s counsel David Pannick told the court in his opening arguments.

“The right to marry is fundamental... the birth certificate is a record of historical facts,” he said, adding that W is now “medically, psychologically and socially” a woman.

The lawyer said the Registrar of Marriages should recognise his client’s new gender, which is stated in official documents like her identity card and passport, and a denial of her bid to marry violates her constitutional rights.

W was not present in court on Monday. The government lawyers will also make their submissions at the two-day hearing that will last till Tuesday.

The government’s counsel has previously argued that existing laws did not accommodate transsexual marriage.

W is one of a small number of people to have undergone sex reassignment surgery in Hong Kong, where activists say sexual minority group like homosexuals and transsexuals still face widespread discrimination.

The city’s gay community has also pushed for the recognition of same-sex marriage, which is not legal in Hong Kong.

In throwing out W’s case in 2010, a court said there was insufficient evidence “to demonstrate a shifted societal consensus in present-day Hong Kong regarding marriage to encompass a post-operative transsexual”.


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This article is now closed to comments

I am outraged by such legislation. While many countries are slowly becoming more accepting of homosexuality, Hong Kong decides to run the other way. I still remember hearing a radio show from what I believe was CR1 talking about gay rights, and all I heard was angry homophobic ignoramuses calling to take shots at the host that brought it up.
Hong Kong is a World city. It is known for its cosmopolitan social environment, yet we let ourselves down with socially conservative ideology that attacks sexual minorities.
Hong Kong needs to relax its laws on sexuality. We aren't Singapore AKA a nanny state. We have no right to pry into other peoples' personal lives. So I urge anyone who reads this to join me in taking down these pointless and unnecessary laws. To be an international city, we have to be open to things that are "different".
We, as members of society must become more open to change. It may feel strange at the first and the saying "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" may creep up on us every now and then, but such thinking makes us miss out on many opportunities. Hong Kong is a city that jumps at opportunities; Its why we're the world deems us an attractive business hub. Don't let narrow-mindedness and fundamentalism make us lose our edge. These foreign investments from businesses are the main reason behind our incredibly successful economy.


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