Date
18 November 2017
The Court of Appeal said it will be able to take into account the employers' perspective on the issue of gay rights without the banks' input. Photo: GovHK
The Court of Appeal said it will be able to take into account the employers' perspective on the issue of gay rights without the banks' input. Photo: GovHK

Court rejects banks’ bid to join lesbian couple’s visa fight

Hong Kong’s Court of Appeal has rejected a move by 12 multinational financial institutions to join a legal action challenging the government’s policy on LGBT rights, public broadcaster RTHK reports.

The financial companies – Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, BlackRock, Nomura, AIG Insurance, ANZ, Societe Generale, ABN Amro, RBC, BNY Mellon and State Street Corp. – had wanted to join a lawsuit filed by a British lesbian against the Immigration Bureau which twice denied her application for a dependent visa.

They had hoped to be able to give the court “a more rounded picture” of the issues surrounding the case, noting that Hong Kong’s visa policy was a major hindrance in recruiting talented LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people to work in the city.

The judges said that although there is no doubt that the appeal involves questions of “great and public importance”, the court will be able to take into account the employers’ perspective without the banks’ input, according to RTHK.

They also said the financial firms would probably just repeat the points made by the British woman, identified in court as QT.

The companies had jointly applied to the Court of Appeal to become intervenors in the case, according to the Hong Kong Economic Journal.

Last year the High Court rejected QT’s petition for judicial review, prompting her to bring the case to the Court of Appeal, which has set a hearing on June 15.

QT and her partner, identified as SS, registered their civil union in Britain in 2011. They came to Hong Kong in 2011 after SS secured a job here.

QT applied for a dependent visa in 2012 and 2014, but both applications were rejected because Hong Kong does not recognize same-sex marriage.

Her application for a working permit was also denied by immigration authorities.

As a result, QT can now only enter Hong Kong on a tourist visa to be with her partner, meaning she cannot open a bank account, obtain permanent residency and work in the city.

Eric Cheung Tat-ming, a principal lecturer at the University of Hong Kong, said it remains uncertain if the Court of Appeal will grant the companies’ bid to get involved in the case, adding that their views will not necessarily influence the court’s ruling.

Lawmaker Raymond Chan Chi-chuen hailed the financial institutions for taking action to push for the rights of sexual minorities, adding that he hopes more local companies will follow suit by being more friendly to LGBT people.

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TL/AC/CG

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