Transsexual in Hong Kong fights to marry her boyfriend

By Annemarie Evans
BBC News, Hong Kong

Image caption,
Lawyer Mike Vidler said "W" was being denied the rights of other Hong Kong women

In a landmark court case in Hong Kong, a woman who used to be a man will fight for the right to marry her boyfriend.

The transsexual, who remains anonymous, has been blocked from doing so by the Hong Kong authorities.

Her lawyer says it's her constitutional right but her birth certificate, which cannot be changed under Hong Kong law, still classes her as male.

The government says she cannot get married as it would constitute a same-sex marriage, which is not legal here.

The case looks set to reveal the contradictions in the local administration system.

Legal conundrum

The Chinese woman in her 20s, identified only as "W", underwent sex change surgery at a public hospital a few years ago.

"W" told the BBC that she had always been a woman in a man's body and had felt from a young age that she was female.

While transsexuals who have undergone surgery are allowed to marry in mainland China, the EU, the US and elsewhere, Hong Kong's Immigration Department, which runs the marriage registry, has refused her request.

Speaking through an interpreter, "W" said she was determined to fight for the right in Hong Kong.

"I don't want to go to other countries to marry. I am a Hong Kong citizen. I have a right to marry here.

"The Hong Kong government allows us to have the sex change, but they don't allow us to marry.

"But for women to want to get married to the person they love is just normal," "W" said.

The woman's lawyer, Mike Vidler, told reporters that while the territory had a system supporting people having sex change surgery, it was blocking this woman from sharing the rights of other women.

Her quest for sex change surgery was carried out at a public hospital here, and her identity card declares her to be a woman.

Mr Vidler said: "We're not asking for any changes in the law. We're just saying that that law that says only a man and a woman - to the exclusion of all others - amounts to a marriage, then W is a woman.

"Therefore she should be treated as a woman for the purposes of that ordinance."

The Hong Kong government has hired a London lawyer to fight the woman's request.

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