Tuesday, October 5, 2010

W cannot marry

A decision on a case that I have been tensely monitoring from Manila has finally come out and sadly the outcome is most unfortunate. You will remember W, the transwoman from Hong Kong who in August filed a petition so she could marry her long-time boyfriend. Because Hong Kong law does not allow changing the sex in birth certificates, W's potential marriage to her partner would be considered same-sex marriage, which is also not allowed in Hong Kong. You can read more here.

The High Court where she lodged her petition has finally come out with a decision that disallows her from marrying. In the decision, the High Court essentially washes its hands off the responsibility to decide whether transpeople in Hong Kong can marry or not. The High Court leaves it up to the legislature to decide.

I can see shades of the infamous Silverio decision here. Mely Silverio is an accomplished transpinay who 3 years ago petitioned our Supreme Court (SC) for a change of name and sex in her birth certificate. An amended Clerical Error Law passed in 2002 which disallows changing any Filipino's sex in his or her birth certificate led to the SC to deny Mely's petition and left it to Philippine congress to decide on the matter of birth certificate sex-changes involving transsexual Filipinos.

The irony in the Hong Kong high court's decision is that W can actually marry a woman and socially it will be a same-sex marriage. And so presently, even if Hong Kong law does not allow such, it can actually happen if one spouse is transsexual. The High Court dismisses this particular reality and the bigger reality of the existence of transpeople. I think this is a good opportunity for the global transcommunity to give the Hong Kong High Court a highly deserved rude awakening.

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