A Hong Kong court upheld a ban on same-sex marriage and civil union partnerships on Friday after a lesbian identified as “MK” launched the city’s first judicial challenge on the issue, stating it violated her constitutional rights.
Rights group Amnesty International described the judgment as a “bitter blow” for LGBTQ people in Hong Kong.
“Sadly, the discriminatory treatment of same-sex couples will continue for the time being,” Amnesty said in a statement.
The Court of First Instance ruled that the government was not obliged to provide an alternative legal framework such as civil unions, giving same-sex couples the equal rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex married couples.
The court said that, while there are diverse and opposing views in society, it expressed “no view on the associated social, moral and/or religious issues” and that it had adopted a strict legal approach to the matter.
Homosexuality has been decriminalized since 1991 in Hong Kong, a former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997. The city has an annual pride parade and lively gay scene.
It does not, however, recognize same-sex marriage and LGBTQ activists voice concerns about widespread discrimination.
Hong Kong’s top court in June ruled in favor of a gay civil servant fighting for spousal and tax benefits for his husband.