Hong Kong overturned spousal benefits for a same-sex couple

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A Hong Kong court has ruled that the husband of a male civil servant is not entitled to spousal benefits, even though the lower court allowed it. Same-sex marriage is not currently legal in Hong Kong, but Angus Leung Chun-kwong, an immigration officer, legally married Scott Paul Adams in New Zealand in 2014. In 2015, Leung filed a judicial review against the government after it denied medical and dental benefits for his male spouse. In April last year, the High Court ruled that the couple were entitled to spousal benefits, but from the point of view of tax law they were not treated like spouses. The government and couple then appealed the court decision. This week, the Court of Appeal ruled that the government, as not just a private employer but “a custodian of Hong Kong’s prevailing socio-moral values”, and according to these values marriage can only be defined as a union of one man and one woman. Court of appeal judge Jeremy Poon wrote: “If spousal benefits and joint assessment, which have been long associated closely and exclusively with marriage, were made available to homosexual couples, it would per se undermine, or be perceived by many to undermine, the status of marriage.” The Court of Appeal upheld the lower court’s ruling that the couple’s taxes could not be assessed together, the couple said they were deeply disappointed with such a decision as it means a step back for the whole LGBT community of the country.

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