Transgender Battle to Marry, HONG KONG - Hong Kong's top court granted a transgender woman the right to marry her boyfriend Monday in a watershed ruling that falls short of allowing same-sex marriage.
The surprise decision only
covers the right of a transgender person who was born male to marry a
man, and for one who was born female to marry a woman.
by the Court of Final Appeal brings the semiautonomous Chinese city in
line with many other places in the Asia-Pacific region, including
mainland China, where transgender people are allowed to marry as their
The court ruled in favour of the woman, identified only as W. One of the judges on the five-member panel dissented.
lawyer, Michael Vidler, said his client was "overjoyed." W, who is in
her 30s, was born a man but had surgery in 2008 to become a woman. The
hospital issued a letter certifying her new gender.
Vidler read a
statement by W to reporters in which she said that after the surgery she
has lived her life "as a woman and been treated as a woman in all
respects except as regards my right to marriage. This decision rights
In a conference call later with reporters, W said,
"I'm very glad that I can finally get married to my beloved boyfriend in
Hong Kong." She added that she hopes the ruling will have a positive
influence how sexual minorities are seen in Hong Kong, where many hold
Vidler said the ruling won't take effect for 12 months, giving the government time to change marriage laws.
judges noted that from evidence and submissions received, "it appears
in the Asia-Pacific region, such marriages are permitted" in mainland
China, Singapore, India, South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Australia and
New Zealand. Same-sex marriage remains rare in the region, though New
Zealand approved it last month.
In China, the Ministry of Civil Affairs clarified the law in 2003 to make it clear that transgender marriage is legal.
Kong, a former British colony, came back under Chinese control in 1997
but was granted a high degree of autonomy from Beijing and retains a
separate legal system.