On gay rights and female foreign judges, Junius Ho is not the voice of Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 May, 2018, 4:18pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 May, 2018, 9:36pm

With the proposed appointment to the Court of Final Appeal of two female foreign judges, who made history by heading the top courts in their respective countries, Hong Kong has again shown its standing as a 21st century world city (“Two foreign female judges make history with appointments to Hong Kong’s top court”, March 21). Not many jurisdictions can claim the courage to allow non-residents to be a part of the court system.

Almost all Legislative Council members supported their appointment, but some raised doubts with respect to the political views expressed by the judges.

It is naive to think that a judge (especially in a common law jurisdiction) will not, even if to a minor extent, imprint his/her ideology in some rulings, but it is worth noting that this can only be done within the confines of the law being applied.

Thus, blocking an appointment on the basis of political ideology does not seem reasonable, the only tolerable exception being if the judges hold beliefs that entail a threat to the country.

And this leads us to the depressing issue of the specific doubts raised by the legislators – the fact that the judges in question have in one way or another supported the advancement of LGBT rights (“Pro-Beijing lawmakers voice concerns over foreign judges’ support for gay rights”, April 28).

It is bad enough that we are losing the lead in terms of LGBT rights to Taiwan, but regressing even further does not vouch for the status of Hong Kong as a leading community within the Asia-Pacific region. And, as shown by many jurisdictions, most recently Australia, the only way is forward.

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Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, the only lawmaker who did not vote in favour of the appointment of the referred judges, claims to be merely echoing the voice of some members of society.

In response, I would respectfully challenge said legislator and the government to hold a public consultation on the issue. I would say the outcome might come as a surprise. So, the question is: are we embracing the world city tag or will there always be a caveat to it?

Jose Alvares, Macau