Hong Kong’s Immigration Department has filed an application to appeal the Court of Appeal’s earlier decision to rule in favour of QT, a lesbian expatriate who was refused a spousal visa.

The department told HKFP on Wednesday that it filed the application having studied the judgment and sought legal advice.

QT. Photo: HKFP/Catherine Lai.

The applicant, QT, entered into a civil partnership with another woman, SS, in the UK in 2011. But when SS came to Hong Kong for work, Immigration only allowed QT to enter the city on a tourist, rather than a spousal, visa.

QT lodged a judicial review over the matter and lost at the Court of First Instance last year. The judge ruled that there was no discrimination by the Director of Immigration, adding that it would have been unlawful for the director to act differently because of the definition of marriage under Hong Kong law. QT appealed.

See also: Hong Kong’s ‘blind spot’: A British woman’s years-long fight against the gov’t to stay with her wife

Immigration Tower wanchai
Immigration Tower. File photo: In-Media.

The Court of Appeal ruled in September that a dependant visa does not have the legal effect of the Director recognising the validity of the relationship, heterosexual or homosexual, under Hong Kong law. It said that the director “is not legally obliged to follow and give effect to marital status as defined in Hong Kong law.”

The court also said the director had not proven that confining the definition of “spouse” to those in marriages recognised by the law “is rationally connected” to the aim of striking the balance between attracting talent and immigration control. The director therefore “failed to justify the indirect discrimination on account of sexual orientation,” it added.

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.