Hong Kong transsexual wins fight to marry boyfriend

A transsexual woman in Hong Kong won a groundbreaking court appeal Monday allowing her to marry her boyfriend and forcing the government to re-write the city's marriage laws.

The woman in her 30s, known in the Court of Final Appeal as "W" under anonymity rules, successfully overturned earlier verdicts that said marriage is only allowed between couples who were of the opposite sex at birth.

W, who underwent sex realignment surgery more than five years ago, argued that her post-operative gender is recognised by the law and that previous rulings were a violation of her constitutional rights.

She also said that her re-assignment surgery had been government-subsidised.

The city's Registrar of Marriages had argued that she could not wed her boyfriend because her birth certificate -- which cannot be altered under Hong Kong law -- said she was male.

"It is contrary to principle to focus merely on biological features fixed at the time of birth," the court said in a written judgement by the panel of five judges.

It added that existing laws "impair the very essence of W's right to marry".

The court said the nature of marriage as a social institution had "undergone far-reaching changes" in a multi-cultural present-day Hong Kong.

"The effect of this decision is that W will be allowed to marry, and should be allowed to marry her boyfriend," lawyer for W, Michael Vidler, told reporters outside the courthouse after the ruling was announced.

"This is a case about sexual minorities being recognised and that their rights are just as important as everyone else's," Vidler said of what he called a "landmark decision".

W, who was not in court Monday, said in a statement read by Vidler: "I have lived my life as a woman and been treated as a woman in all respects except as regards to my right to marry. This decision rights that wrong."

"I am very happy that the court of appeal now recognises my desire to marry my boyfriend one day and that that desire is no different to that of any other women who seek the same here in Hong Kong," W said.

"This is a victory for all women in Hong Kong."

The court will suspend the decision for 12 months allowing time for the government to amend the city's marriage laws.

Human rights activists welcomed the ruling saying that it was a step in the right direction in recognising the rights of people from sexual minorities.

The judiciary's decision may affect the willingness of the government to "accept changes in light of modern gender issues or rights of minorities," Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor director Law Yuk-kai told AFP.

The decision "enables a person of sexual minority to recover and enjoy the rights to form a family at their own free will," he said.

In rejecting W's case in 2010, a lower court had concluded there was insufficient evidence "to demonstrate a shifted societal consensus in present-day Hong Kong regarding marriage to encompass a post-operative transsexual".

W's lawyers had previously argued that many countries have allowed transsexual people to marry the opposite sex in their new gender, including mainland China since 2004, as well as Japan and Australia.

In November last year Hong Kong's Legislative Council voted down a motion to launch a public consultation on the implementation of anti-discrimination laws to protect sexual minorities.

Thousands of Christians took to the streets to protest against any such laws, claiming they would restrict freedom of speech.

  • How a mom accidentally stole a car in under 60 seconds 1 hour 28 minutes ago
    How a mom accidentally stole a car in under 60 seconds

    “I didn't steal your car but I think my mom may have. It's a long story. I'll explain, but your car is safe and sound," read the flier posted in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It’s a strange tale that began when Cheyrl Thorpe was asked by her daughter Nekisia Davis to dog sit her Pomeranian at her apartment, according to New York Magazine.

  • All-new 2015 Subaru Outback reestablishes higher ground 3 hours ago
    All-new 2015 Subaru Outback reestablishes higher ground

    Much of Subaru’s modern day success in America can be attributed to one car: the Outback. Born in 1994 as a response to the growing popularity of SUVs, the Outback established a winning formula of combining a high-riding suspension, butch body cladding and big round fog lights to its comfortable, no-nonsense Legacy wagon. It is the kind of unique product that only a quirky company like Subaru could build, and was one that kept Subaru from slipping into ubiquity even as traditional SUVs and crossovers have taken over the world.

  • Custom faux-tique electric tram aims to replace New York's horses over the neigh-sayers 4 hours ago
    Custom faux-tique electric tram aims to replace New York's horses over the neigh-sayers

    For the record, it's the year 2014. I mention that in case someone reading this story about a push to replace horses with motorized carriages thinks they've stumbled onto some archival piece by accident. It's been more than 100 years since the first vehicles began to trundle around Manhattan, but the last remaining vestiges of horse-powered transport in the city could be nigh — if the backers of a massive electric wagon get their way.

  • Singaporeans slam NEA's $120 licence requirement for tissue sellers
    Singaporeans slam NEA's $120 licence requirement for tissue sellers

    Singaporeans on social media reacted angrily to news that tissue sellers at hawker centres and street corners are being required to pay for an annual licence.

  • ‘Huge’ Hindu, Buddhist statues against Islam, ex-judge says
    ‘Huge’ Hindu, Buddhist statues against Islam, ex-judge says

    KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 — The “huge” statues at a Hindu temple in Batu Caves and Buddhist temple in Penang are an affront to Islam as the religion forbids idolatry, a retired Court of Appeals judge...

  • Over 280 missing after South Korean ferry capsizes
    Over 280 missing after South Korean ferry capsizes

    By Narae Kim JINDO South Korea (Reuters) - More than 280 people, many of them students from the same high school, were missing after a ferry capsized off South Korea on Wednesday, in what could be the country's biggest maritime disaster in over 20 years. It was not immediately clear why the Sewol ferry listed heavily on to its side and capsized in apparently calm conditions off South Korea's southwest coast, but some survivors spoke of a loud noise prior to the disaster.