Court orders legal framework for same-sex unions
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The ruling is a partial victory for pro-democracy activist Jimmy Sham, who had sought official recognition of his marriage to his husband.

In addition to rejecting this, the Court of Final Appeal also noted that the city had failed to actively provide alternatives.

In spite of legal challenges, same-sex marriages are not currently permitted.

Over the years, LGBT advocates have won small victories, but the recognition of same-sex unions outside the territory is limited, especially in taxation and spousal visas.

As a result of Tuesday’s ruling, LGBT couples’ rights have been violated because the government has failed to provide alternative options – such as civil unions – for them.

“The absence of legal recognition of (same-sex partners’) relationship is apt to disrupt and devalue their private lives together,” said Justice Patrick Keane.

In lieu of the ruling, the court gave the government two years to establish an official framework for recognizing unions between people of the same gender.

Mr Sham has twice failed to convince the courts to recognize his marriage despite launching a legal challenge in 2018.

His right to equality has been violated by the city’s ban on same-sex marriages and the lack of alternative frameworks.

The Court of Final Appeal heard Mr Sham’s case after his last attempt to convince appeal judges in August 2022 failed.

During a judicial review, people can challenge government policies and decisions. Recent years have seen pro-government media criticize political activists like Mr Sham for abusing the system. Hong Kong leader John Lee and his administration have repeatedly warned of “soft resistance” against national security – including legal actions for judicial review.

A key figure in the 2019 anti-government protests, Mr Sham is currently being held on unrelated subversion charges. A controversial national security law has charged 47 pro-democracy activists.