BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Spanish Russian Chinese Welsh

 You are in:  World: Asia-Pacific
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Commonwealth Games 2002

BBC Sport

BBC Weather

Monday, 25 March, 2002, 15:47 GMT
Hong Kong gays wed for welfare
Gay man Tommy Chen (right) ties the knot with his lesbian friend Yeo Wai-wai
Marriage made for housing benefit: Tommy Chen (right) and Yeo Wai-wai
The bride wore a black tuxedo and sported a fake moustache; the groom was resplendent in a white wedding dress and accompanying veil.

The bridesmaid - a man - stole the show in a tangerine-coloured frock with matching parasol.

Tommy Chen, 28 and gay, married a lesbian friend to try to claim Hong Kong housing benefits available only to heterosexual couples.

Hong Kong society does not give us equal opportunities and rights

Yeo Wai-wai
Minutes after he and Yeo Wai-wai, 25, were declared man and wife they announced they had no intention to live together but wanted to be eligible for housing benefits in one of the world's most expensive cities.

They also kissed and exchanged rings with their same-sex lovers who had been witnesses to the wedding.

Mr Chen and his partner Ken Cheung, 27, rented wedding gowns and piled on make-up and wigs for the ceremony in the normally restrained atmosphere of the register office.

Mr Cheung now plans to marry Yeo Wai-wai's partner, a 25-year-old woman who gave her name only as "TVB", to claim the same benefits.

Though homosexuality is legal in Hong Kong, only couples of opposite sexes are eligible for subsidised rental housing.

"We are two pairs of same-sex couples in love," Yeo Wai-wai said outside the register office, with a black moustache painted on her face.

"Unfortunately, Hong Kong society does not give us equal opportunities and rights."

Prosecution risk

After the ceremony, the newly-weds went to apply for public housing.

If they and their partners are successful, each same-sex couple would live together in a subsidised apartment, in violation of the public housing rental agreement.

The system doesn't allow them rights that exist overseas because we still hold the view that we are a traditional Chinese society

Lawyer Daniel Wong

The Home Affairs Bureau said in a statement that its policy on public housing "reflects the consensus of the community regarding monogamous marriage".

Daniel Wong, a lawyer who specialises in marriage law, said that sham marriages carried the risk of prosecution for "undertaking false oaths", but that homosexual couples in Hong Kong had few other options.

"The present system doesn't allow them rights that already exist overseas because we still hold the view that we are a traditional Chinese society," he said.

See also:

05 Mar 02 | Asia-Pacific
Hong Kong finds little joy in sex
12 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
HK leader says freedom is safe
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories