Traditional Chinese Simplified Chinese Email this article
Proposal to amend Domestic Violence Ordinance to cover same-sex victims

     The Government¡¦s proposal to amend the Domestic Violence Ordinance to cover same-sex cohabitants aimed to provide civil remedies to the victims concerned while upholding the Government¡¦s policy of not recognising any same-sex relationship as a matter of legal status, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said today (January 10).

     Speaking at a public hearing of the Legislative Council¡¦s Panel on Welfare Services, Mr Cheung reiterated that the proposal was ¡§only relevant to the policy area of domestic violence, and it enables same-sex cohabitants to apply under the ordinance to the court for an injunction order against molestation by their cohabiting partners¡¨.

     When the Administration introduced the Domestic Violence (Amendment) Bill 2007 into the Legislative Council to extend the scope of the ordinance to cover former spouses and former heterosexual cohabitants in 2007, a number of Legislative Council Members urged the Administration to further extend the scope of the ordinance to include same-sex cohabitants. In response to their request, the Administration undertook to further amend the ordinance to include in its coverage same-sex cohabitants in the 2008-09 legislative session.

     Mr Cheung said, ¡§The proposal is made after taking into consideration the intimate relationship between same-sex cohabitants, as in the relationship between heterosexual cohabitants, which might entail similar special power interface, dynamics and risk factors and render the victims reluctant to report to the police the abusers¡¦ acts of violence and seek redress under the criminal legislative framework. As such, additional civil remedies should be provided for these victims to enable them to be freed from molestation.¡¨

     Mr Cheung stressed that the proposed amendments did not affect other existing legislation and that they should not be regarded as equivalent to giving legal recognition to same-sex relationships or providing legal entitlements to persons in such relationships.

     ¡§It remains the Administration¡¦s established and clear policy not to recognise same-sex relationship,¡¨ he said.

     Under the Marriage Ordinance (Cap. 181), a marriage is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.

     ¡§The Administration does not recognise same-sex marriage, civil partnership or any same-sex relationship as a matter of legal status and policy stance. It is noteworthy that the proposed amendments have no relevance to the legal definition of marriage,¡¨ Mr Cheung explained.

     ¡§I heard both supporting and opposing views put forward today on the proposed amendments. However, there appears a consensus among different groups and Legislative Council Members that individuals in specific relationships should be protected from threats of violence from molestation. We will thoroughly consider the views put forward by all sectors. I hope that the community, the Legislative Council and the Administration can discuss the subject and resolve the differences in a spirit of understanding,¡¨ he said.

Ends/Saturday, January 10, 2009
Issued at HKT 13:21


Print this page