In a devastating blow for local LGBTQI communities, a Hong Kong court this week has refused to recognise same sex marriages conducted abroad.

“The applicant’s attempt in the present case to achieve complete parity of legal recognition of foreign same-sex marriages and foreign opposite-sex marriages is too ambitious,” Judge Anderson Chow wrote in his judgment.

The case bought forward by Jimmy Sham, a local district councillor who in 2013 had married his partner in New York, argued that Hong Kong should recognise all gay marriages registered overseas and that refusal to do so was “highly unfair and discriminatory.”

It was only in 1991 after close to two decades of advocacy and public debate, that the Hong Kong Legislative Council finally decriminalise private, adult, non-commercial, and consensual homosexual relations. Historically, many local laws of the former British colony were a reflection of outdated and Colonialist principles.

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 In this most recent case, Sham had sought that the court declare that city laws were violating his constitutional right to equality, but the High Court threw out his application on Friday on the grounds that it was “unsustainable as a matter of law.”

Addressing media outside the court on Friday, Sham who is also a pro-democracy councillor said“This is unjust, why are gay people seen as too ambitious when we fight for our rights?”

Yet on the same day a similar case came before a Hong Kong court, this time ruling in favour of the couple whom had previously married in London, granted them similar inheritance rights similar to that of heterosexualcouples.

That two cases, heard on the same date, can yield such differing outcomes highlights the fraught intersection between LGBTQI communities and Hong Kong at large. Just last year Hong Kong decided to uphold a ban on same-sex civil partnerships.

In response to Sham’s case, LGBTQI rights group Hong Kong Marriage Equality, expressed disappointment in their statement about the matter.

“The city was ‘dragging our feet’ when it comes to LGBT+ equality” and that “The court missed its chance to advance the legal status of overseas married same-sex couples.

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