How a Hong Kong tax assessment decision could influence attitudes towards LGBT+ rights across Asia

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07/11/2019

Just days after same-sex marriage was legalised in neighbouring Taiwan, Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal handed down its own landmark decision. A judgment which has – arguably – laid the first stones in the yellow brick road for further recognition and legalisation of same-sex marriage across Asia. But the June 6 ruling was not a challenge against marriage laws in Hong Kong. It simply granted the application of spousal benefits and joint tax assessment to gay civil servant Angus Leung and his British husband Scott Adams, who were married in New Zealand in 2014. The significance of this case lies in the fact that it pierces the “Asian values” argument against same-sex marriage and relationships in the region. This argument basically recognises Confucian values which sacrifice individual freedom in favour of filial piety, or loyalty towards family, corporation, government or nation. Though based on ancient principles, this particular set of values has been particularly promoted by political leaders and intellectuals since the late 20th century as an alternative to the Western ideals that some think are being imposed on the region.

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