Hong Kong’s top court ruled in favour of same-sex partnerships including civil unions on September 5.
However, it stopped short of granting full marriage rights in a partial win for the city’s LGBTQ community.
LGBTQ campaigners in the former British colony have gained sporadic successes in court over the past ten years, overturning discriminatory laws on perks for housing, taxes, and immigration.
But the case brought by jailed pro-democracy activist Jimmy Sham is the first time Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal has directly addressed the issue of same-sex marriage.
The Hong Kong government, according to the court, "is in violation of its positive obligation... to establish an alternative framework for legal recognition of same-sex partnerships," such as civil unions, according to the court's finding.
But it stopped short of making a decision of full marriage equality for same-sex couples.
The court "unanimously dismisses the appeal in relation" to same-sex marriage and recognition of foreign same-sex marriage, it said in its judgement.
While LGBTQ activism faces political challenges in mainland China, semi-autonomous Hong Kong has seen increasing support among its population for same-sex marriage.
A poll this year found that 60 percent of Hong Kongers supported same-sex marriage, compared to just 38 percent a decade ago.
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