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Hong Kong Transgender Woman Wins Legal Battle For Marriage

posted 13 May 2013, 03:12 by Mpelembe   [ updated 13 May 2013, 03:13 ]

Hong Kong's highest court grants a transsexual woman the right to marry her boyfriend.

 HONG KONGCHINA (MAY 13, 2013) (ATV) -  A trasnssexual woman won her appeal in Hong Kong's highest court to marry her boyfriend on Monday (May 13), forcing the government to rewrite marriage laws in the city.

The Court of Final Appeal, with a majority decision of four to one, ruled that the appellant, identified as W, was in law entitled to be included as "a woman" and therefore was eligible to marry a man.

W's lawyer told reporters outside the court that the case was significant, according to local reports.

"A case about equality. This is a case about the court recognizing the predominance of human rights here in Hong Kong. This is a case about sexual minorities being recognized, and that their rights are just as important as everybody else's," said lawyer Michael Vidler.

W, who is in her thirties, did not appear in court nor did she meet reporters in person because she did not want to be labelled as a transgender person, she said later on Monday.

Speaking to reporters over the phone, she said the judgement signifies that she is a real woman with rights that all other women share.

"In Hong Kong, I'm finally being recognized as a real woman and as a woman who can marry in Hong Kong, not a woman who cannot marry or a transgender person who cannot marry," W said. Her identity is protected by a court order and her voice is distorted in order to protect her identity.

She said she believes her case can trigger positive changes and bring about more tolerance for transgender people in Hong Kong.

"I believe this victory will bring positive changes in this regard. Because I believe when the government leads in supporting us, women who have undergone surgery, to get married, this will support, or tell Hong Kong people that we are real women, not transgender people or women who cannot marry," W said.

In the judgement, the court said it was unconstitutional to impair the woman's right to marry.

It also decided that the decision would be suspended for 12 months to allow time for the government to put into legislation to mend the Marriage Ordinance.

W underwent surgery to become female between 2005 and 2008. She got a new identity card showing her sex as female after that.

But the marriage registrar refused her right to marry a man, saying "for the purpose of marriage, only an individual's sex at birth counts and any operative intervention is ignored." Same-sex marriages are not allowed in Hong Kong.

She lost her case twice before taking it to the top court in the former British colony.

Marriages by post-operative transsexuals in their acquired gender are permitted in mainland China.