Global financiers and Amnesty International support LGBT expat spousal visa battle

Published:  12 Apr at 3 PM
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After winning her landmark case, brought to obtain a dependent visa allowing her to live in Hong Kong with her partner, an LGBT expat is now forced to fight for her rights again as the Hong Kong government has granted the state license to appeal.

Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal will hear the government’s case for denying the dependent visa on 5 June, but in the meantime no less than 16 local law firms as well as Amnesty International and many international financial companies have come out in favour of the lesbian woman and her partner. The original court’s verdict upended the Hong Kong Immigration department’s usual practice of only granting dependent visas to heterosexual spouses, and was considered a landmark ruling for gay men and women.

Known only as QT in order to protect her identity, the expat told the media she and her partner’s lives are still on hold. A British citizen, QT legally entered her civil partnership some months before her partner was offered a job in Hong Kong. Expecting to get a spousal visa, she applied for a judicial review after being notified of immigration’s refusal. Her appeal was rejected by the Court of First Appeal, but she won at the Court of Appeal, with the court ruling immigration’s decision amounted to discrimination.

Immediately, the Hong Kong government lodged a final appeal. By this time, Amnesty International and a large selection of global financial institutions including Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse, as well as 16 Hong Kong law firms were already involved, but were not permitted to speak in court on QT’s behalf. According to QT’s lawyer Michael Vidner, written arguments in her favour from all her supporters will again need to be approved before they can be heard in court, with many of her supporters having substantial business and other interests in the city. The submissions are expected to include explanations of how Hong Kong’s restrictive immigration rules are impacting their businesses.
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