Hong Kong’s Court of Appeal upheld homosexual couples’ right to inheritance by dismissing on Tuesday an appeal from the Secretary for Justice. The appeal sought to establish that homosexual and heterosexual couples are not entitled to the same rights under Hong Kong’s inheritance laws.
The case centered around Edgar Ng and Li Yik Ho’s concern over inheritance laws. Ng previously applied for judicial review of Hong Kong’s inheritance laws in 2019 as he was worried that his Li, his homosexual partner, would not be entitled to inherit his properties if he died without a will. The Court of First Instance allowed Ng’s review and found in favor of him in September 2020.
However, the Secretary for Justice appealed against the Court of First Instance’s ruling. Lawyer Abraham Chan represented the Secretary for Justice in the appeal. During the appellate hearing, he espoused that homosexual and heterogenous couples were entitled to different rights under Hong Kong’s inheritance laws because they constitute two materially distinguished groups.
Nonetheless, the Court of Appeal’s three-judge panel unanimously upheld the Court of First Instance’s ruling. The Court of Appeal said that the Secretary for Justice failed on his grounds of appeal and agreed with the Court of First Instance in finding that differential treatment of homosexual and heterogenous couples constituted discrimination against homosexual couples.
Upon receiving Tuesday’s judgment, Li wrote on Facebook:
I hope the Government will respect today’s judgment and at long last give Edgar the respect and dignity he’d always deserved … The present appeal is the 7th case in which the Hong Kong [c]ourts confirmed that there should be legal protection for same-sex couples.
This is not the first time Hong Kong courts have handed down judgments with respect to the rights of homosexual couples. On September 5, the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal found that the Hong Kong government has a duty to legally recognize homosexual relationships. On October 17, the Hong Kong Court of Appeal dismissed appeals from the Hong Kong Housing Authority which sought to uphold the constitutionality of excluding homosexual couples from legal housing benefits as married couples.