When a lesbian couple in Hong Kong broke up last year after nearly two decades together, they agreed it was crucial they both continued to play an equal role in the lives of their two young children. Securing shared custody would make dealing with many of the tasks that constantly pop up in the lives of a family – hospital visits, school trips – much easier. More than that, they were desperate to preserve the profound emotional bond anchored by constant contact with the children, aged nine and 11. “For me to not have joint custody due to our separation would have been devastating, not only for me, but also the children,” said one of the women, who was identified in court documents as BB. While same-sex marriage remains largely unrecognised in Hong Kong, the High Court nevertheless recognised both women equally as parents of the children in May, handing the LGBT community a significant victory in its nearly 15-year legal fight for official acceptance. But that optimism over the future is tempered by worries that a new wave of conservatism, riding on the back of the national security law that the Beijing leadership imposed upon the city last year, could drown out activist voices and that a switch in tactics is needed.