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Gender looms large in Hong Kong courtroom

08-10-2010 10:55 BJT

BEIJING, Aug. 10 (Xinhuanet) -- A test of wills is underway between a local government seeking to uphold tradition and a couple earnestly pursuing what some might say is anything but against a landscape with some bizarre circumstances.

It started on Monday when a Hong Kong court began reviewing a government move to restrict a transgender woman from marrying her male partner in the first such case in the city's legal system.

The woman, a local resident in her 20s who, under court order can be only identified as "W", was born male and has been undergoing sex-change surgery, but been blocked from marrying her boyfriend by Hong Kong's marriage registry, according to her attorney, Michael Vidler.

"She is a woman and she should be entitled to the same rights as a woman," Vidler said.

In this particular case, according to Vidler and others, however, the devil may lie in many details.

Under current laws, a post-operative female transsexual living in Hong Kong is lawfully entitled to marry, but only to a woman - despite the fact that same-sex marriages are prohibited in Hong Kong.

Vidler said the application by W to marry her male partner was rejected by the marriage registry based on the fact that her birth certificate listed her as male.

The origins of the impasse date five years back when W first began to undergo sex change surgery and therapy, which she recently, and successfully, completed.

In fact, the Hong Kong government officially recognized the procedure, authorizing the change in her identity card and school certificates.

W and her boyfriend then submitted a marriage application that was rejected out of hand by the Hong Kong marriage registry - based on the gender listed on her birth certificate, Vidler said.

This case in a place that bans same-sex marriages, noted Vidler, offers no shortage of irony.

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