LCQ21: Facilitation measure for same-sex spouses or civil partners of accredited members of consular posts to enter and remain in the HKSAR


Hong Kong (HKSAR) -      Following is a question by the Hon Chan Chi-chuen and a written reply by the Acting Secretary for Security, Mr John Lee, in the Legislative Council today (January 11):

Question:

     It was reported that the Chief Secretary for Administration's Office had informed a number of foreign consulates in Hong Kong in June last year that the Government would implement a new measure to allow the same-sex partners of those foreign consular officers who hold diplomatic/official passports (same-sex partners of consular officers) to stay in Hong Kong until the officers concerned had departed from office.  However, the overseas same-sex partners of Hong Kong residents are currently not permitted to stay in Hong Kong as dependents.  Some members of the public have relayed to me that the aforesaid differential treatment is unfair.

 In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the details of the aforesaid measure; the current number of persons granted permission to stay in Hong Kong under the measure, with a breakdown by country to which the consulate concerned belongs;

(2) whether the same-sex partners of consular officers enjoy all the legal rights of a spouse in Hong Kong (such as signing of the consent form for surgical procedures to be carried out on the spouse, and receiving the cremated ashes of the deceased spouse);

(3) of the ranks of the consular officers to whom the aforesaid measure is applicable; whether a person who applies for staying in Hong Kong under the measure is required to prove that he or she has entered into a same-sex marriage/civil partnership with the consular officer concerned; and

(4) whether the Government had formulated the aforesaid measure based on the privileges and immunities accorded to diplomatic agents under instruments such as the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and the Consular Relations Ordinance (Cap. 557); if so, of the details; if not, the Government's justifications for granting this privilege to consular officers; whether the Government will consider extending the coverage of the measure to include the overseas same-sex partners of Hong Kong residents?

Reply:

President,

     Upon consultation with relevant policy bureaux and departments, the consolidated reply to the question is as follows:

     In general, unless a person has the right of abode or right to land in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), he/she requires a visa to enter the HKSAR for residence as a dependant. The existing immigration policy on entry of spouse as a dependant in the HKSAR is based on monogamy and the concept of a married couple consisting of one male and one female in accordance with the laws of Hong Kong.

     With a view to promoting friendly relations between international community and the HKSAR, the Immigration Department (ImmD) introduced a measure in June 2016 to facilitate same-sex spouses or civil partners of accredited members of the consular posts in the HKSAR to enter and remain in the HKSAR if those same-sex spouses or civil partners hold diplomatic, official or service passports.

 Under the facilitation measure, the consular post concerned should issue a note for the application for entry and provide information such as supporting documents stating the relationship and the tenure of the accredited member of the consular post in the HKSAR concerned for the ImmD to consider granting permission to the same-sex spouse or civil partner of the accredited member of the consular post in the HKSAR concerned who is holding a diplomatic, official or service passport to enter and remain in the HKSAR during the tenure of the accredited member of the consular post in the HKSAR concerned.  The above facilitation measure is an administrative arrangement which does not imply recognition in the HKSAR of the applicants as spouses of accredited members of the consular posts in the HKSAR.  Nor does the above facilitation measure have any effect on the rights under the existing legislation.

 In addition, the above facilitation measure is not applicable to same-sex spouses or civil partners of accredited members of the consular posts in the HKSAR if those same-sex spouses or civil partners hold ordinary passports.  The above facilitation measure is distinct from the immigration policy on entry as a dependant in the HKSAR.

     Between June and December 2016, three persons were permitted to enter and remain in the HKSAR under the above facilitation measure.  It is inappropriate to state the consular posts in the HKSAR relating to the above three persons.



Published on: 2017-01-11

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