Thursday, May 4, 2017

Marco Wan Comments on the Hong Kong Civil Servants Same Sex Benefits Case (HKFP & SCMP)

"Gay rights only attainable in court, as Hong Kong remains passive to ensuring equality, says LGBT advocate"
Ellie Ng
Hong Kong Free Press
2 May 2017
LGBT rights advocate Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit says Hong Kong’s gay community can only hope for social change through the judicial system because the government is passive in tackling sexual orientation discrimination.
     “Gay rights can only be fought in the courts. The government rarely takes the initiative to review its policies and ensure equal rights for gay people,” Sham, of civil group Rainbow Action said on an RTHK programme on Tuesday.
     Sham’s remarks came after a landmark decision at the High Court last Friday, which ruled that gay civil servants are entitled to welfare benefits for their spouses. The ruling will take effect on September 1.
     “The gay community is happy about the ruling,” Sham said. “At least it is better than having no change at all.”
     But he said there is still a long way to go for attaining real equality for gay people. For example, he said, many LGBTQ people face “serious discrimination” at their workplaces...
     Marco Wan Man-ho, an associate professor of law at the University of Hong Kong, said the difference is owing to the fact that Hong Kong’s tax law states clearly that marriage is only between a man and a woman, while the Civil Service Regulations stipulate that “spouses” may enjoy welfare benefits without defining the term.
     The court held that it would be impossible for gay couples to enjoy welfare benefits if the term refers only to heterosexual partners, thereby constituting discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, Wan said... Click here to read the full article.

Nikki Sun
South China Morning Post
2 May 2017
The leader of a Hong Kong religious pressure group has accused a judge of exceeding his authority by wrongly interpreting the meaning of marriage in the city, following a landmark ruling that allows a gay civil servant to claim the same benefits for his spouse as his heterosexual colleagues.
     Others, however, feel that the government should offer even more legal protections to the gay community. During a heated debate on an RTHK radio programme on Tuesday, Rainbow Action spokesman Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit called for the implementation of an anti-discrimination law...
     Marco Wan, associate professor at the University of Hong Kong’s law school, said the case did not challenge the definition of marriage. Instead the judicial review focused only on whether the act of not granting benefits to civil servants’ gay spouses was lawful... Click here to read the full article.

Marco Wan also appeared as a panelist on RTHK Radio 3's morning programme, Backchat, on 5 May 2017.  The discussion was titled "Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage in Hong Kong" with the following introduction:
"Has Hong Kong moved a step closer to recognizing same sex marriage after a landmark court judgment upheld the right of a gay civil servant to claim the same benefits for his spouse as his heterosexual colleagues. The judge in the case did emphasize that he was not ruling on whether same sex marriages should be allowed in Hong Kong, describing that controversial question as a matter which should be decided by Legco not the courts. But some Christian groups are not convinced and have angrily denounced the judgment, in some cases using extremely strong language. So what do you think? Is Hong Kong ready to recognize same sex marriages?"
  Click here to listen to the programme.  

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