The Security Bureau has directed lawmakers to approve the Marriage (Amendment) Bill after the Court of Final Appeal ruled that a transgender woman should be allowed to marry her boyfriend, reports scmp.com.
The court gave the government until July to change the law.
Rights activists object to the bill insisting a person undergo full gender reassignment surgery to be considered transgender. On the other hand, religious groups fear the amendment will make way for marriage between same-sex couples and consider that a threat to what it says is a traditional family.
A coalition of 64 groups and individuals told a Legislative Council panel on the bill April 22 that they were critical of Marriage (Amendment) Bill.
Lawmakers also accuse the government of putting forward a half-hearted bill without proper consultation. “How could such a controversial topic yield such a united response – all in opposition to this amendment?” lawmaker Dr Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung told scmp.com.
Joanne Leung Wing-yan, who chairs the Transgender Resource Centre, told the panel that to force the intrusive gender reassignment operation as a prerequisite “is cruel and inhumane.”
Herself a transgender woman, Joanne told lawmakers of the arduous eight-hour operation she went through and spoke of two friends who committed suicide – one because he was told he could not have the operation and the other because of operation-related depression.
Gay-rights activist and pop singer Denise Ho Wan-see also pointed out that there hasn’t been enough time formulate a comprehensive bill.
Conversely, a Church parents’ group criticized the bill for supporting gender reassignment surgery arguing that it would only confuse gender identities. “How can we explain to our next generation what marriage is? Passage of the bill might encourage youngsters with doubts about their sexual identity to become homosexuals,” the group said in a written statement.
Media have reported that the Marriage (Amendment) Bill came to light following a case by “Ms W” even though the government was not in favor and did all it could to fight it. First it refused Ms W new birth certificate that showed her new gender. Later, it used this to scuttle her marriage, which is based on the birth certificate.
The government also fought her judicial review three times — the Court of First instance, the Court of Appeal, and the Court of Final Appeal. Media reported that the Hong Kong government paid large sums of money and even specially flew in an English barrister to represent its position against the marriage.
Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is not banned in Hong Kong and much of society remains opposed to equal laws for same-sex couples.