Hong Kong government’s refusal to provide public housing to legally married same-sex couples is unconstitutional, the High Court has ruled.
04 March 2020, the court allowed a judicial review brought by Nick Infinger over the Housing Authority’s decision to reject him and his husband from renting a public housing flat.
According to SCMP, during the judicial review, Infinger's lawyer argued that the existing framework led to “direct and deliberate” exclusion of same-sex couples from housing benefits.
Judge Anderson Chow found that failing to class same-sex married couples as "ordinary families" violates Basic Law Article 25, which says Hong Kong residents shall be equal before the law, and Article 22 of the Bill of Rights, which states that everyone is entitled to equal protection against discrimination on any grounds.
"Other than the fact that the applicant’s marriage with the partner is between two persons of the same sex, the Housing Authority has not been able to point to any difference between their marriage and other foreign opposite-sex marriages which it would accept for the purpose meeting the eligibility criterion," Chow said.
The judge also rejected the following arguments from the Housing Authority:
The government had no intention of prioritising public housing applications made by same-sex couples, because its resources were too limited to meet the city’s housing needs
Trouble in assessing whether such same-sex partnerships were genuine (RTHK)
The judge concluded the case by revoking the couple's public housing application for Housing Authority to have a fresh consideration.
Nick Infinger, who was 25 when filing the legal challenge, married his husband in Canada and applied for public housing under the category of “ordinary family” in March 2018. He also satisfied all the eligibility criteria:
Both himself and his spouse were permanent Hong Kong residents over the age of 18
Neither owned any domestic properties or exceeded the limits on income or assets
But the authority rejected the bid on September 7, 2018. Stating with reference to the Oxford English Dictionary that he was ineligible because the relationship between the applicant and family members must be either husband and wife, parent and child, grandparent and grandchild.
This ruling was another victory for Hong Kong’s LGBT community! #Hustle4Diversity