Hong Kong court upholds rulings favoring housing benefits for same-sex couples, supporting LGBTQ rights.

The court upheld rulings supporting housing benefits for same-sex couples in Hong Kong, deeming the government's policies discriminatory and unconstitutional.

The government's argument that allowing homosexual individuals to apply  for housing as married couples would harm the status of heterosexual  couples was rejected by the Court of Appeal on Tuesday. 

The court emphasized that traditional marriage does not provide any special privileges or advantages to heterosexual couples. 

The court acknowledged that the legislation failed to provide a definite timeframe for leasing or purchasing a property.

The ruling was due to the Department of Justice's challenge to a judge's decision allowing same-sex couples to apply for and live together in subsidized flats under the Home Ownership Scheme (HOS).

In 2020, Justice Anderson Chow Ka-ming of the Court of First Instance,  who has since been promoted, ruled in favor of permanent resident Nick  Infinger. 

The ruling stated that the Housing Authority had unlawfully prevented  Infinger and his spouse from renting a public housing unit as a family. 

One year later, Chow authorized another judicial review for the gay couple, finding the authority's decision to prohibit them from sharing the same HOS flat as "unjustly oppressive".

According to current regulations, homosexual couples can solely request  public rental housing as individual applicants, resulting in extended  waiting periods. 

Additionally, they are unable to include additional occupants or become  joint tenants of HOS flats without incurring an extra cost. 

Mr. Justice Thomas Au Hing-cheung, the author of the 102-page ruling, stated that the differential treatment constituted discriminatory action and necessitated substantial justification.

"The current instances show a severe form of indirect discrimination that goes beyond typical cases, as it sets an unattainable standard for same-sex couples," he said.

The counsel representing the authority argued that permitting same-sex couples to compete for housing with heterosexual couples would further deplete limited housing resources available to the latter.

Au emphasized that the rights of traditional couples would not be affected by this decision, as the Basic Law does not guarantee a specific waiting period for public rental flats.