The Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal handed down judgment today [6 June 2019] in a case brought by Hong Kong civil servant Mr Angus Leung. Mr Leung, who is in a same sex marriage, was seeking equivalent benefits to those afforded to (opposite sex) couples whose marriages are recognised in Hong Kong.
In 2014, Mr Leung married in New Zealand in where same sex marriage is recognised. The case raised for the first time in Hong Kong whether a differential treatment (purportedly based on marital status) could be justified by the aim of protecting the institution of marriage as understood in Hong Kong. The Court of Appeal had earlier held that depriving employment-related benefits and the right to a joint tax assessment and tax benefits was justified by the need to protect and not undermine the status of marriage.
After hearing submissions by Mr Leung’s legal team on 7 May 2019, the Court of Final Appeal unanimously held that the discriminatory measures adopted by the Government could not be justified, and allowed Mr Leung’s appeal.
Mr Leung was represented by Matrix’s Karon Monaghan QC, and leading Hong Kong lawyers Nigel Kat SC of Parkside Chambers, Azan Marwah of Gilt Chambers, and Mark Daly and Aaron Chan of Daly and Associates. The Hong Kong Department of Justice’s Counsel Team was led by Lord David Pannick QC of Blackstone Chambers.
Mark Daly said: “Today is a big step towards recognising the dignity of the LGBTQ+ community. It is hoped that today’s victory will prompt various departments to implement policies with a view to promoting diversity and genuine equality in society.”
To view the judgment in full, please see here.
For a copy of the press release from Daly and Associates, please see here.