Transgender Woman Battles for Her Right to Wed in Hong Kong

by Savitha C Muppala on Aug 10 2010 9:29 PM

 Transgender Woman Battles for Her Right to Wed in Hong Kong
A transsexual battles for her right to wed in Hong kong and took the government to court on Monday.
Lawyers for the Chinese woman, who is in her 20s and known only as "W" under anonymity rules, told the court that a law banning her from marrying her boyfriend is unconstitutional and violates her basic rights.

The woman is one of a small number of people to have undergone sex change surgery in a Hong Kong public hospital, and had her sex altered on her identity card.

But the city's Registrar of Marriages ruled last year that she could not marry her boyfriend because her birth certificate -- which could not be changed under Hong Kong law -- says that she is still a man.

The city's Marriage Ordinance states that a marriage can only be a union between a man and a woman.

Philip Dykes, barrister for W, asked the High Court to declare the law incompatible with the Hong Kong Bill of Rights and the Basic Law, the city's mini-constitution, which says every resident should enjoy the freedom to marry.

"W has done all that is possible to bring herself to a sex which she genuinely believes she belongs to," he said.

Dykes noted that the gender therapy and sex-change operation that W underwent were subsidised by the government.

"It's a mark of her commitment or desire to go to such extremes. She should be treated as a woman."

Scientific advances have moved many societies a long way from the times when transsexuals were seen as freaks or monsters, the barrister argued.

Traditionally, Asian societies have lagged Western nations' attitudes toward homosexuals and transgendered people.

But mainland China, Singapore, Malaysia and Japan allow transsexual people to marry the opposite sex in their new gender, said Michael Vidler, W's solicitor.

In Hong Kong 29 people underwent sex reassignment surgery between 2000 and 2009, the South China Morning Post reported, but others are believed to have travelled overseas for the surgery.

The case will continue Tuesday.