Hong Kong, like much of Southeast Asia, has made slow progress in supporting LGBTQ+ rights when compared with jurisdictions in the Western world. Homosexuality — in terms of private, adult, non-commercial and consensual relations — was decriminalised in 1991 yet there have been no significant legislative changes to support or recognise same-sex relationships since then.
Members of the LGBTQ+ community have very little protection from discrimination apart from “other status” mention in the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance, also enacted in 1991, which states:
“The law must deal with everyone equally and cannot treat one person differently from another because of the person’s race, colour, sex, language, religion, opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or any other status.”
One small victory was the Domestic Violence (Amendment) Ordinance of 2009, which extended the scope of the Domestic Violence Ordinance to cover same-sex cohabitants and such former cohabitants. As a result, a party to a cohabitation relationship, whether of the same sex or opposite sex, can apply to the court for an injunction order against molestation by the other party.
However, attitudes are changing and as the LGBTQ+ rights movement gains momentum worldwide, so the Hong Kong government is facing increasingly frequent legal challenges to its policies. Recent landmark hearings have weighed issues such as the eligibility of spouses in overseas same-sex civil partnerships or marriages to apply for dependant visas; discrimination in the granting of spousal benefits and tax-filing status of same-sex couples; eligibility for public rental housing; and whether or not same-sex couples can be legally married in Hong Kong.