Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen has said that it is “premature” to comment as to whether, or when, the government may introduce a bill to amend the Marriage Ordinance at the Legislative Council. Yuen was being asked about the progress of any steps taken by the government to protect the rights of transsexuals.

Civic Party lawmaker Alvin Yeung submitted a question to Yuen on Wednesday, inquiring about efforts to safeguard transsexual rights following the case of “W”, which ruled that a transsexual male-to-female was allowed to marry a man after undergoing full sex reassignment surgery.

Rimsky Yuen. File Photo: Gov HK.

After the case, Yeung said, the Court of Final Appeal decided to suspend the order for 12 months to allow the government and legislature time for discussion on how to amend the legislation. However, when the government introduced the Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2014, it was voted down by the Legislative Council.

Yeung asked about the progress of the government’s Inter-departmental Working Group on Gender Recognition, and whether the authorities had looked into gender recognition problems and studied legislation, as per the recommendation by the court.

Consultation paper

Yuen said that the working group is currently studying recognition issues, such as whether there should be a gender recognition scheme and what the criteria should be. It is also studying the laws and policies of overseas jurisdictions and international groups, and will draft a consultation paper on the matter.

Photo: HKFP.

Yuen said that the group will then review existing laws and policies in Hong Kong that will be affected by gender recognition rules and make reforms accordingly. The government will “carefully” consider the final recommendations before deciding the way forward, he said.

However, Yuen added that because a public consultation has yet to be carried, it is not yet possible to set a timetable for introducing legislation to implement the group’s proposals.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.