HONG KONG – A transsexual woman in Hong Kong won a groundbreaking court appeal Monday allowing her to marry her boyfriend and forcing the government to rewrite the city’s marriage laws.
The woman, in her 30s, known in the Court of Final Appeal as “W” under anonymity rules, successfully overturned earlier verdicts that said marriage is only allowed between couples who were of the opposite sex at birth.
W, who had sex realignment surgery over five years ago, argued that her postoperative gender is recognized by the law and that previous rulings were a violation of her rights.
The city’s Registrar of Marriages had argued that she could not wed her boyfriend because her birth certificate said she was male.
“It is contrary to principle to focus merely on biological features fixed at the time of birth,” the court said in a written judgment by the panel of five judges. It added that existing laws “impair the very essence of W’s right to marry.” The court said the nature of marriage as a social institution had “undergone far-reaching changes” in a multicultural present-day Hong Kong.
“The effect of this decision is that W will be allowed to marry, and should be allowed to marry her boyfriend,” W’s lawyer, Michael Vidler, told reporters after the ruling was announced.
W, who was not in court Monday, said in a statement read by Vidler: “I have lived my life as a woman and been treated as a woman in all respects except as regards to my right to marry. This decision rights that wrong.”
“I am very happy that the court of appeal now recognizes my desire to marry my boyfriend one day and that that desire is no different to that of any other women who seek the same here in Hong Kong,” W said. “This is a victory for all women in Hong Kong.”