Landmark Hong Kong Decision Clears the Way for Same-Sex Parents to Raise Children Together

Same-sex couples in Hong Kong have faced a long, hard road in the fight for legal recognition. A recent ruling around an IVF case gives them new hope. Here is what’s happening.

Hong Kong: A Conservative Stronghold

Hong Kong has long been a conservative stronghold when it comes to recognizing same-sex couples with any sort of rights.

The country remains locked in its traditional ways when it comes to barring same-sex marriage, but a couple of recent court rulings have started to thaw the ice.

Landmark Case

Back in early September, the Court of Final Appeal, which is Hong Kong’s equivalent of the U.S. Supreme Court, handed down a landmark decision.

The court gave the government some homework in a case by a gay man who has been in custody for protesting the lack of recognition for same-sex marriages.

A Step Toward the Legalization of Same-Sex Marriages

Within two years, according to the ruling, Hong Kong must implement some sort of formal method for recognizing same-sex unions.

While the decision stops short of guaranteeing the legalization of same-sex marriages, the LGBTQ+ has celebrated this development as a huge step forward.

In the aftermath of that good news, same-sex parents got a big boost of their own later in the month.

IVF Birth by Lesbian Mothers

The case at hand stemmed from the birth of a young Hong Kong boy in 2022. 

The child is the product of a reciprocal IVF procedure undertaken by his lesbian mothers. That procedure involves implanting the fertilized egg of one mother into the uterus of the other, who then carries the baby to term.

Parental Rights Confusion

When the little boy was born, though, the Hong Kong government refused to recognize that he had two parents. Instead, they would only include one of the women on the child’s birth certificate.

But Judge Queeny Au-Yeung said that was discrimination against the couple’s son, denying him his right to claim both of his birth parents.

Specifically, Au-Yeung said that the little boy had been “discriminated as to his birth in the sense that, unlike other children, he does not have a co-parent, genetically linked to him.”

With those words, the judge made both mothers the boy’s parents in the eyes of the law, just as they had always been in their own eyes.

Set the Stage for Future Court Battles

Au-Yeung’s judgment also went further in setting the stage for future court battles around same-sex marriage rights.

“The court should be astute to the changing world where people build families in different manners other than through a married or heterosexual relationship,” Au-Yeung said.

The Winds of Change Are Blowing

While neither ruling paves a clear and smooth road for same-sex marriages, they both serve to thaw some of the icy conservative logjam when it comes to attitudes around gay and lesbian couples in Hong Kong.

And the court rulings seem to fall right in line with changing societal views, too. According to a survey conducted by researchers at the University of Hong Kong, about 60% of people in the country think the law is wrong when it comes to same-sex couples.

Clearly, the winds of change are blowing through Hong Kong. And the highest courts are taking notice.

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