A Hong Kong court on Tuesday upheld two earlier rulings that supported the granting of subsidized housing benefits to same-sex couples, in another victory for the city’s LGBTQ+ community.
The decision rejected appeals by the Housing Authority of the earlier rulings, which said some of its policies violated the constitutional right to equality.
One of the policies denies same-sex couples married overseas eligibility to apply for public rental housing as an “ordinary family.” The other excludes same-sex married partners of owners of subsidized apartments from being defined as “family members” and “spouses,” blocking them from receiving joint occupancy and ownership rights that heterosexual couples enjoy.
Judges of the Court of Appeal said the differential treatment “is a more severe form of indirect discrimination than most cases because the criterion is one which same-sex couples can never meet.”
The ruling is expected to have a strong impact on the lives of same-sex couples.
Currently, Hong Kong only recognizes same-sex marriage for certain purposes such as taxation, civil service benefits and dependent visas. Many of the government concessions were won through legal challenges in recent years as the city has seen a growing social acceptance of same-sex marriage.
Last month, the city’s top court ruled in a landmark decision that the government should provide a framework for recognizing same-sex partnerships.
Henry Li, who was involved in one of the housing benefit cases, said in a Facebook post that he was thankful for the court decision and hoped the Housing Authority would not file another appeal.
The organization Hong Kong Marriage Equality said on Facebook that the ruling showed that public policies should protect everyone’s interests and shield them from discrimination based on their sexual orientation.