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Court hears appeal to grant same sex couples benefits

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The Hong Kong Court of Appeal heard arguments this week around the granting of spousal benefits to gay couples working for the Hong Kong government the South China Morning Post reported.

Immigration officer Angus Leung Chun Kwong filed for judicial review in 2015 saying that the immigration bureau's failure to award spousal benefits like medical and dental care to his partner was in violation of the Basic Law, the Hong Kong Bill of Rights and the Sexual Discrimination Ordinance.

In April, the Court of First Instance ruled in favour of Leung. Mr Justice Anderson Chow Ka Ming called the bureau’s policy “indirect discrimination” in his judgement. The immigration bureau, however, decided to appeal the decision by the lower court. Leung Married his partner Scott Adams in New Zealand in 2014.

Leung also took the tax authority to court in the same big but lost that case, he has appealed that decision.

The Court of Appeal started hearing the government's appeal on Monday. Barrister Monica Carss-Frisk QC representing the immigration bureau and the tax authority argued on Monday that giving gay couples the same benefits as heterosexual couples would amount to recognising same-sex marriage and undermine the institution of marriage. She argued that as a civil servant's benefits are based on whether a marriage is recognised.

The outcome of the appeal could have far-reaching consequences as the Hong Kong government is one of the largest employers in the territory.

Carss-Frisk also represented the director of immigration 2-months ago when a lesbian expatriate identified as QT won a landmark appeal against the Hong Kong Immigration Department to secure a spousal visa through her same-sex partner who works in Hong Kong. The government has appealed the ruling the Hong Kong Free Press reported.

ALSO READ: 10 best companies for LGBT inclusion in Hong Kong

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