British lesbian loses Hong Kong legal bid

A British lesbian on Friday lost a legal challenge against Hong Kong authorities to grant her a visa to live and work there with her partner, in a setback for the LGBT equality in the territory.

QT, as she is referred to in court, entered into a civil partnership in Britain in 2011 and moved to Hong Kong the same year, after her partner was offered a job in the city.

But she was denied a dependent visa and has instead stayed in Hong Kong on a visitor visa, which does not allow her to work.

The socially conservative southern Chinese city does not recognise gay marriage and only decriminalised homosexuality in 1991.

"The applicant has failed in her grounds in support of this judicial review, I therefore dismiss the application," High Court judge Thomas Au said in a written judgement.

"To effectively accept a same-sex-marriage-like relationship to be equivalent to a married status in Hong Kong is not permissible under the laws of Hong Kong as they now stand," Au said.

Immigration law in the former British colony does not explicitly mention gay couples, but states that only the "spouse" of a person permitted to work in the territory may apply for a dependent visa.

At a court hearing in May of last year, the government's counsel Stewart Wong said that "marriage can only be heterosexual." Allowing same sex couples to reside in Hong Kong through dependent visas would "open a door too wide", Wong said.