Draft laws for transgender marriage 'too limited' says expert Sam Winter

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 January, 2014, 5:20am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 January, 2014, 5:20am

Draft changes to the city's marriage laws to recognise transgender people are too restrictive because they are limited to those who undergo sex-change operations, a leading transgender expert says.

"The government is taking the minimalist approach," said Sam Winter, a University of Hong Kong associate professor and a director of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health.

On Tuesday, the Legislative Council's security panel will discuss the latest developments on proposed amendments to recognise transgender people following the landmark ruling last May that granted a post- surgery transsexual the right to marry her boyfriend.

In handing down its judgment, the Court of First Instance gave the government a year to decide whether marriage laws needed to be amended to reflect the ruling that the definition of "woman" include a "post-operative male-to- female transsexual".

Winter cited the World Health Organisation's definition of a transgender person as someone who desires to live and be accepted as a member of the opposite sex and was "usually accompanied" by a wish to have hormonal treatment and surgery to reflect their desired sex.

He said the words "usually" were crucial to the debate because there were individuals who met the diagnostic requirements for a transsexual but who opted to live as the opposite sex without going under the knife.

"The draft legislation is not inclusive or comprehensive enough," Winter said.

"But we are cautiously optimistic that the government will set up an interdepartmental group which could be the first step to look into broader transgender issues without going to the courts," he added.

Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok has previously said the government did not have a preconceived stance.

"But at the moment, before all the information, research, discussion and a consensus on the issue, it would be best to keep the status quo," he said in October.