Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said that last week’s Court of Final Appeal ruling on dependant visas for same-sex couples in civil unions was not about LGBT rights.

“I read the judgment in full – the appeal case before the Court of Final Appeal was not about the LGBT rights per se, as you have suggested,” she told an HKFP reporter on Tuesday. “The appeal is about the important issue concerning whether the Director of Immigration has exercised fairly, without discrimination, the administration of his policy concerning the issue of dependent visa.”

Last Wednesday, the city’s highest court upheld a lower court’s judgment in favour of lesbian expat QT, affirming what legal experts deemed a “landmark decision” for Hong Kong’s LGBTQ community. The judgement agreed that the differential treatment towards QT – namely denying her a spousal visa on the basis of marital status – amounted to unlawful discrimination.

See also: Hong Kong’s ‘blind spot’: A British woman’s years-long fight against the gov’t to stay with her wife (2017)

QT. Photo: HKFP/Catherine Lai.

Lam was speaking ahead of an Executive Council meeting on Tuesday: “[T]he Hong Kong SAR Government of course fully respects the judgment of the Court of Final Appeal, so we are now studying the judgment and that’s why I personally also read the judgment fully once, and we will decide on the next step in compliance with that judgment.”

‘Pave the way’

In a statement following her victory, QT said the ruling “affirms what millions of us in this wonderful and vibrant city know to be true, that discrimination based on sexual orientation… is offensive and demeaning – it offends against Hong Kong’s core values and undermines the rule of law.”

Her solicitor Michael Vidler said that the court specifically said it was not deciding on the merit of same-sex marriage in Hong Kong, but he hoped it would “pave the way” for the legalisation of gay marriage down the line.

QT’s solicitor Michael Vidler speaking on Wednesday. Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

Last November, Lam stopped short of offering her congratulations after the city won the right to host the 2022 Gay Games, saying only that she had “noted” the news.

Tom Grundy

Tom is the editor-in-chief and founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications and New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Al-Jazeera and others.