The Former French Mission Building in Central which houses the Court of Final Appeal. Image via Wikipedia.
Hong Kong’s highest court has ruled that a transsexual woman should be allowed to marry her male partner, in a landmark ruling for marriage equality.
The SCMP reports:
The Court of Final Appeal, ruling 4-1, holds that it is “contrary to principle to focus merely on biological features fixed at the time of birth and regarded as immutable”.
The court also noted that in present-day multicultural Hong Kong, the nature of marriage as a social institution had undergone far-reaching changes. It further noted that the importance of procreation as an essential constituent “has much diminished”.
The judgment states that “whether a consensus regarding a transsexual’s right to marry exists among the people of Hong Kong is not a relevant consideration”, because reliance on the absence of a majority consensus as a reason for rejecting a minority’s claim is “inimical in principle to fundamental rights”.
“We think it would be quite wrong to exclude such a transsexual person from the right to marry in her acquired gender by characterising her as a ‘pseudo-type of woman’,” Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li and Permanent Judge Robert Ribeiro wrote in the majority decision.
The lone dissent came from Permanent Judge Patrick Chan Siu-Oi, who called for a public consultation on the matter and trotted out the “traditional concept of marriage” argument that opponents of marriage equality love to bring up, as if marriage weren’t traditionally a property contract between two families where you swapped goats (or other livestock) for a teenage girl.
Update 12:45 CST: The SCMP has more reactions to the court’s decision. Speaking through her lawyer, the (anonymous) plaintiff said:
This is a victory for all women in Hong Kong. I may have born a man but after transgender surgery at a government hospital more than five years ago, I’ve lived my life as a woman and been treated as a woman in all respects except as regards my right to marry.
This decision rights that wrong, and I’m very happy the Court of [Final] Appeal now recognises my desire to marry my boyfriend one day, and that desire is no different to that of any other woman who seeks the same here in Hong Kong.