Advancing LGBTIQ rights in Hong Kong
Last month proved a groundbreaking moment in advancing the human rights of LGBTIQ people in Asia, and UWA alumni Peter Reading (BA, LLB '98) has played a key role in those developments.
"On 4 July 2018, Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal made a landmark decision concerning the Immigration Department policy on dependent visas where couples move to Hong Kong for work," Peter explains.
"The Court decided that where couples are in same sex marriage or civil partnerships from overseas, it was unlawful sexual orientation discrimination to deny dependent visas to them.
"The decision will directly benefit any same sex couples from Australia who are moving to Hong Kong for work, so long as they are married or in a legally registered relationship."
Peter says such discrimination concerning lack of rights of same sex couples in Hong Kong applies in many other areas of public life such as public housing, rights concerning inheritance, parental rights, and adoption.
Peter is Legal Counsel at Hong Kong’s Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), a statutory body whose role is to promote equality and prevent discrimination across society.
He has been instrumental in their advocacy work relating to equality for LGBTIQ people. Over the last two years the EOC has called for comprehensive LGBTI anti-discrimination legislation to build on the existing anti-discrimination laws covering sex, disability, race and family status.
The EOC has also called on the Hong Kong Government to consider possible means of legal recognition of same sex relationships, and to review all the policy areas which currently discriminate against same sex couples.
“Some people try to argue that Asian values are different from western values, but human rights obligations don’t vary by region, and in fact Hong Kong is falling behind other Asian neighbours," Peter says.
"Thailand introduced a bill to legalize same-sex civil partnerships. Seven of Japan’s cities and wards recognize gay relationships, and Taiwan is on track to become the first country in Asia to legalize gay marriage following the decision by its Supreme Court on same sex marriage.
"This is an opportunity for Hong Kong to become a leader on LGBTIQ equality in Asia.”
You can learn more about the QT decision and the work of Peter Reading from this recent Hong Kong RTHK TV interview from the program The Pulse in the link below:
About Peter Reading
Peter is an international human rights lawyer who has been working in the field of human rights for 18 years in Australia, the United Kingdom, Europe, Commonwealth countries, and most recently in Hong Kong China.
Since November 2012, Peter has been working as Legal Counsel at the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) in Hong Kong where he has been leading a number of advocacy and policy projects relating to improving the anti-discrimination legislation and related policies.
He's also been a Member of the Executive Committee of Amnesty International Hong Kong since June 2015, with responsibility for overseeing the organisation's human rights works.
Previously Peter worked in London in a number of human rights roles including at Amnesty International UK; the Commission for Racial Equality as Principal Litigation Officer and Head of European and International Legal Policy from 2005 to 2008; the Equality and Human Rights Commission as a Senior Lawyer and Director of Legal Policy from 2008 to 2012; and at the Commonwealth Secretariat in 2012 as a human rights consultant on Commonwealth projects.
Most recently, in May 2018, he was awarded the Advocacy Award by Community Business for his work on advocating for equality for LGBTIQ people in Hong Kong.