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Hong Kong transsexual woman allowed to marry her boyfriend


18:55, May 13, 2013

HONG KONG, May 13 (Xinhua) -- A transsexual woman will be allowed to marry her boyfriend after the Court of Final Appeal of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region approved her appeal on Monday, in which the city's top court found by a majority four to one that the Basic Law and the Bill of Rights protect the right to marry, local media reported.

However, the court said it would not implement the judgment for the next 12 months, to allow the city government time to consider amending the law, according to the RTHK. The marriage registry had refused the transsexual's request because her birth certificate still classed her as male.

"The right to marry guaranteed by our constitution extends to the right of a post-operative transsexual to marry in the reassigned capacity," said the ruling, which was co-written by Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma and Permanent Judge Robert Ribeiro.

"In present-day multi-cultural Hong Kong where people profess many different religious faiths or none at all... procreation is no longer (if it ever was) regarded as essential to marriage," it added.

The ruling said that references to "woman" and "female" in Hong Kong's marriage law should include post-operative male to female transsexuals.

Permanent Judge Patrick Chan, who voted against the ruling, said including post-operative transsexuals in the definition of "man" and "woman" was "a radical change of the traditional concept of marriage."

"There is no evidence that the social attitudes in Hong Kong towards the traditional concept of marriage and the marriage institution have fundamentally altered," he said, adding that changes should only be made after "wide public consultation."

The transsexual known as W -- who's in her 30s -- took her case to the Court of Final Appeal after a lower court ruled against her in 2010.

"The effect of this decision is that W will be allowed to marry, and should be allowed to marry her boyfriend," her lawyer, Michael Vidler, said after the ruling was announced.

"This is a case about sexual minorities being recognized and that their rights are just as important as everyone else's," Vidler said of what he called a "landmark decision."

The transsexual -- who was not in court -- 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 final appeal now recognizes my desire to marry my boyfriend one day and that desire is no different to that of any other women who seek the same here in Hong Kong. This is a victory for all women in Hong Kong."

According to Hong Kong's Hospital Authority, a total of 16 persons in Hong Kong had received transsexual operations since 2008.

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