Hong Kong civil servant wins benefits for same-sex spouse

Landmark ruling to open health insurance benefits for LGBT partners in government service

Hong Kong civil servant wins benefits for same-sex spouse

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

A gay civil servant has won a landmark case in Hong Kong, which will provide spousal benefits, such as health insurance, to his husband.

Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal ruled in favour of Angus Leung Chun-Kwong, a senior immigration officer, who filed a case after the Hong Kong government denied benefits for his partner Scott Adams, Radio Television Hong Kong reported. Leung and Adams were married in New Zealand in 2014.

The ruling ordered the Civil Service Bureau to provide the mandatory spousal benefits to Adams. It will also allow the couple to file taxes jointly.

These are the same rules as those afforded to heterosexual couples, which will likely open a new market for insurance for LGBT couples married in jurisdictions where it is legal.

Same-sex marriage is not recognised in Hong Kong, and this was the government’s main argument against granting benefits to Adams.

In 2017, a lower court ruled in favour of Leung, but the government appealed the decision and it was overturned, prompting Leung to elevate it to the Court of Final Appeal.

According to a ruling by a five-judge panel, the prevailing culture of the community regarding marriage is irrelevant in their consideration, because a “reliance on the absence of a majority consensus as a reason for rejecting a minority’s claim is inimical in principle to fundamental rights.”

“How is it said that allowing Mr Adams medical and dental benefits weakens the institution of marriage in Hong Kong?” the court asked.

Leung welcomed the ruling, and he urged the government to review its laws and policies to determine and amend any discriminatory components, so people no longer need to spend huge amounts of time and money fighting for their basic rights.

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