9 July 2019

Survey Findings on Public Opinion on Legalisation and the Spousal Rights of Same-sex Marriage in Hong Kong



Taiwan legalised same-sex marriage in May. The Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal recently ruled in favour of a gay civil servant to grant him and his husband spousal benefits and joint tax assessment. To gauge public views on the legalisation of same-sex marriage and the rights that same-sex couples can enjoy, the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) conducted a survey from 17 to 20 June 2019. A total of 732 respondents aged 18 or above were successfully interviewed, with a response rate of 39.6%. The sampling error was estimated at plus or minus 3.62 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. 

Major findings are summarised as follows: 

Though approved by law in Taiwan and other regions, same-sex marriage does not have a statutory status in Hong Kong. Of 726 respondents, 47.0% of them endorsed same-sex marriage in Hong Kong, while 39.5% disagreed with the legalisation in Hong Kong. A gay couple has recently been adjudged entitled to spousal benefits and joint tax assessment. Over half the respondents (51.1%) agreed with the entitlement, and 39.1% disagreed with it. The court also denied any reasonable connection between the ruling and protection of the traditional institution of marriage in Hong Kong. Of 732 respondents, 47.3% concurred with the argument, while 36.3% disagreed with it. 

The survey further asked about the public’s attitudes to other rights of citizens that a spouse of a same-sex marriage could enjoy. Given the eligibility of a spouse of a same-sex marriage, over half of the respondents (51.9%) opposed the right of the spouse to apply for public housing in Hong Kong, and 39.3% approved the right. Over half of the respondents (57.7%) opposed the right of the spouse to apply for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance, and 34.2% approved of the right. 

In contrast, given the eligibility of a same-sex marriage spouse, over half the respondents (53.5%) backed the right of the spouse to apply to adopt children, while 39.4% of the respondents opposed the right. In addition, two-thirds of the respondents (65.2%) backed the right of a surviving same-sex marriage spouse to inherit property, while 24.1% of them disapproved of the right. 

To appraise its possibility in the forthcoming ten years, 48.1% of the respondents believed there would be a small chance of legalising same-sex marriage in Hong Kong. A tenth of the respondents (10.1%) saw no chance at all, but about one quarter of the respondents thought the chance was quite great (18.8%) or very great (7.0%).