Goldman, Clifford Chance Hail Hong Kong Same-Sex Visa Decision

(Bloomberg) -- Banks and law firms including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Clifford Chance LLP lauded the Hong Kong government’s decision to recognize people who entered into same-sex partnerships overseas when granting dependent visas.

Hong Kong’s administration said Tuesday that it had decided to accept applications for same-sex visas from foreign couples from Wednesday after reviewing a July 4 court ruling in favor of a British lesbian, known as QT, who applied for a visa to reside in the city with her same-sex spouse.

The decision puts Hong Kong at the forefront of a movement for gay rights in Asia, where only Taiwan is in the process of formally recognizing same-sex marriage. Hong Kong’s financial community had long argued that discriminating against gay workers hurt efforts to attract the best talent in one of the world’s biggest financial centers.

“As major employers in Hong Kong’s financial and legal sectors, we are proud to have supported the QT case that led to this outcome, and will continue to advocate for policies and practices that promote equality and inclusion,” a group of 32 banks and law firms with offices in Hong Kong said in a joint statement. Signatories also included Goldman, Clifford Chance, Credit Suisse Group AG and Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP.

Announcing its decision, the government cautioned that its policy change would only concern immigration policy for foreign citizens.

“The revision has nothing to do with legal recognition of same-sex civil partnership, same-sex civil union, same-sex marriage, opposite-sex civil partnership or opposite-sex civil union in Hong Kong,” it said in a statement. “Nor should there be any expectation of such a plan by the government.”

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