Hong Kong’s top court will hear an appeal for overseas same-sex marriage recognition from a democrat on June 28, the court diary has revealed.

The Court of Final Appeal will hear a case from Jimmy Sham, the ex-convenor of disbanded protest group the Civil Human Rights Front.

Jimmy Sham
Hong Kong activist Jimmy Sham. File photo: Etan Liam, via Flickr.

Sham tied the knot with his partner in New York in 2013 and has since launched his bid for Hong Kong to recognise same-sex marriages performed overseas in 2018, arguing that it was unconstitutional for Hong Kong to not recognise overseas same-sex marriages. That first legal challenge was rejected in 2020.

The Court of Appeal dismissed the democrat’s case last August, before Sham was granted permission to take the case to the top court in November.

Sham is among the 47 democrats charged under the Beijing-imposed national security law over an alleged conspiracy to commit subversion. The activist, who was denied bail in March 2021 and has been remanded in custody since, has pleaded guilty and will be sentenced after the trial, which began last month and is slated to last for 90 days, is complete.

Court of Final Appeal
Court of Final Appeal. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

According to the Court of Appeal’s earlier ruling against Sham, a panel of three judges ruled that the city only recognised marriages between a man and a woman.

Chief Judge of the High Court Jeremy Poon, Vice President Susan Kwan and Justice of Appeal Carlye Chu also ruled against Sham’s lawyer’s argument that not recognising overseas same-sex marriages amounted to discrimination.

The judges ruled that if overseas unions were recognised, it could create “an inherent incompatibility” for same-sex couples who wished to marry in Hong Kong but could not do so.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.