Morrison & Foerster, a member of the coalition of 15 international financial institutions and 16 law firms that supported the landmark case concerning LGBT+ rights, QT v. Director of Immigration, welcomes the Hong Kong Immigration Department’s announcement that it has formally revised its policy on non-local dependants with effect from September 19, 2018 so that: “a person who has entered into a same-sex civil partnership, same-sex civil union, ‘same-sex marriage’, opposite-sex civil partnership or opposite-sex civil union outside Hong Kong with an eligible sponsor in accordance with the local law in force of the place of celebration and with such status being legally and officially recognised by the local authorities of the place of celebration will become eligible to apply for a dependant visa/ entry permit for entry into Hong Kong”. The revised policy is a significant step on the part of the government in the direction of LGBT+ equality in Hong Kong.
As major employers in Hong Kong’s financial and legal sectors, the coalition is proud to have supported the QT case that led to this outcome, and will continue to advocate policies and practices that promote LGBT+ equality and inclusion. In this case, a British woman, who requested to be identified only as QT in court, sued the Hong Kong Director of Immigration in 2014 after she was denied a spousal visa that would have granted her resident status and allowed her to work without the need for a separate visa. The woman and her partner, who was offered work in Hong Kong and had secured an employment visa, had previously entered into a civil partnership in Britain. The policy change comes after the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal ruled unanimously on Wednesday, July 4 that QT should be granted a spousal visa, upholding a lower appellate court’s decision.
Prior to this ruling, the group of global banks and law firms had petitioned the Court to grant leave to intervene in the case. While the Court had denied that petition, it explicitly referred to the position taken by the group in its final judgment, and thus clearly had the group’s submission in mind when reaching its decision. The Immigration Department also acknowledged the position put forth in the coalition’s intervention applications in its press release, stating: “The Policy also ensures that Hong Kong will continue to attract and retain people with the right talent and skills to come to and remain in Hong Kong by giving them the choice of bringing in their non-local dependants to live with them in Hong Kong.”
The MoFo pro bono team supporting the case included Timothy Blakely, Jason Nelms, Daniel Levison, Thomas Huang, and Jessica Chan.