Transgender man plans to challenge proposed law on marriage rights

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 July, 2014, 5:43am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 July, 2014, 8:26am

A transgender man will challenge the government over its controversial Marriage (Amendment) Bill, which would force transgender people to undergo a dangerous sex-change operation in order to be recognised as their chosen gender and allowed to marry.

Lawyer Michael Vidler and his client said they would challenge the legislation as unconstitutional should it pass on July 9.

The man, who can only be identified as Q, should not have to give up his "constitutional right" to leave his body unharmed in order to have the right to marry, Vidler said.

"What would all the men of this world say if they were told they had to undergo full adult male circumcision before they were allowed to marry? "Well, what they're asking of Q is a thousand times worse than that."

The life-threatening female-to-male sex-change procedure could leave Q wearing diapers for the rest of his life. "I don't want to undergo [penis reconstruction] surgery," he said.

Vidler said the bill defies a Court of Final Appeal decision last year, involving a transgender person known as W, that said the city should adopt guidelines based on Britain's Gender Recognition Act.

The British law, passed in 2004, acknowledges a person's gender once they have adopted it for two years, without the need for a full sex-change operation.

Q would satisfy that requirement, as he has been undergoing hormone replacement therapy for several years.

The Security Bureau responded by saying the question was "outside the scope of the bill", since the Court of Final Appeal "did not decide on the question of whether other transgenders or transsexuals who have not received [a sex-change operation] may also qualify to marry in their preferred sex".

The bureau said that after the bill passed, a working group would "compare legislation in other jurisdictions, and make recommendations to the administration on the matter".

In the W case, a transgender woman was told she could not marry her boyfriend, despite being recognised as a woman in all other instances, because her birth certificate says she is a man.

The government argued the union would constitute a same-sex marriage, which is illegal in Hong Kong. The court ruled in favour of W, saying a ban on marriage would be unconstitutional.

Vidler said that despite submissions from the Legislative Council's legal advisers warning the government that the proposed legislation was unconstitutional, it had gone ahead with the bill because of the inordinate influence in the security bureau of evangelical christians, who opposed same-sex marriage.

"They constantly equate the two, even though the courts have clearly separated the two issues."