The High Court has found government policy of denying legally married same-sex couples the right to apply for public housing unlawful and unconstitutional. The decision follows two landmark cases in the top court. In one of them a gay civil servant won the right to same-sex spousal benefits and joint taxation assessment. In the other, the Court of Final Appeal ruled immigration authorities must grant a lesbian expatriate a same-sex spousal visa. These two decisions changed the legal landscape. As a result, it is now easier for discrimination cases, like the public housing one, to succeed. The government is now facing the prospect of more such challenges and rulings against it. In the latest case Mr Justice Anderson Chow Ka-ming allowed a judicial review mounted by permanent resident Nick Infinger over the Housing Authority’s decision to bar him and his husband from renting a public housing flat. He sent Infinger’s application back to the authority for reconsideration with priority. Chow acknowledged the government was pursuing a legitimate aim of supporting traditional family formations through providing for their housing needs, and public flats were limited. However, he concluded the authority had failed to justify its differential treatment, which had resulted in an unacceptably harsh burden on same-sex couples lawfully married overseas, including Infinger. Gay drama Suk Suk named 2019’s best Hong Kong film by critics It remains to be seen whether the government appeals in this case, as it has in others like it. It is more than three years since the Equal Opportunities Commission recommended the government hold a public consultation on the introduction of laws against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. Public opinion, as a recent poll showed, is becoming much more supportive or at least tolerant of LGBT rights. Rather than fighting one court battle after another over practices seen to be discriminatory, the government should consider addressing the rights of this community. If it sits back and does nothing, it is effectively leaving it to the courts to make policy on matters such as housing and welfare. This may be politically convenient in a socially conservative society, but is a problematical approach to responsible government.