Hong Kong’s government is no closer to legalising same-sex marriage, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said at a Bloomberg Invest Asia conference on Thursday.

Lam said the issue of same-sex marriage remains controversial, but indicated that a recent court ruling in immigration arrangements for same-sex couples who married abroad “does help” to bring overseas talent to the city. She had been responding to concerns that a failure to legalise same-sex marriage could harm businesses who want to attract foreign talent.

Carrie Lam speaking at Bloomberg Invest Asia 2019. Photo: Screenshot.

Last July, the Court of Final Appeal upheld a lower court’s judgement in favour of a lesbian expat known as QT, a ruling that has been hailed a “landmark decision” for the city’s LGBTQ+ community.

The court ruled that denying a spousal visa to QT on the basis of marital status amounted to unlawful discrimination. Prior to the ruling, QT was only allowed to enter the city on a tourist visa, on the grounds that her same-sex union was not recognised under Hong Kong law.

In spite of the unanimous judgement, same-sex marriage is not recognised in Hong Kong.

Photo: Jennifer Creery/HKFP.

Lam touted the city’s commitment to the rule of law in abiding by the QT ruling, despite the government losing the case in court.

“This is also an indication of the rule of law in Hong Kong and we will give dependent visas to the same-sex partners of people who come in to work with us,” she said.

A 2018 survey by the University of Hong Kong found that support for legalising same-sex marriage in Hong Kong had jumped to 50 per cent, a rise of 12 per cent in four years.

Jennifer Creery

Jennifer Creery is a Hong Kong-born British journalist, interested in minority rights and urban planning. She holds a BA in English at King's College London and has studied Mandarin at National Taiwan University.