Gay lawmaker to motion for debate on same-sex unions

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Legislative Councillor Raymond Chan Chi-chuen has planned a motion of debate next month to study policies that would allow same-sex unions.

The motion debate, introduced at Wednesday’s LegCo meeting, will take place on July 4, a little over a month after Hong Kong’s appeal court reversed a landmark ruling that granted same-sex couples the same spousal benefits as heterosexual couples.

“Hong Kong’s LGBT community is tired of being second class citizens, but our push for equality fell on deaf ears,” Chan told Coconuts HK in an email.

“Whatever the outcome of this motion debate, Hong Kong will have to deal with non-traditional families and their welfare.”

He added that he hopes the debate will see a single government policy bureau claim responsibility for non-traditional family matters, pointing out that the Security Secretary handled questions in the past because they usually involved immigration and law enforcement.

The fight for an amendment on gay marriage has been a cornerstone of Chan’s tenure since he came out as gay in 2012, shortly after winning his seat.

The debate over same-sex unions has been going on for years, with allies and members of the LGBT community pointing out that Hong Kong is way behind Europe and other parts of the world on gay rights.

It took on new prominence in 2015, when civil servant Angus Leung Chun-kwong challenged his employer’s refusal to grant his husband spousal benefits after they married in New Zealand. Though the High Court ruled in his favor in 2017, judges later cited Hong Kong’s Basic Law — which states “the freedom of marriage of Hong Kong residents and their right to raise a family freely shall be protected by law” — to overturn the decision.

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