People participate in Hong Kong's gay pride parade in 2018. A court ruled Tuesday the government must come up with a plan to recognize same-sex marriage in the next two years. File Photo by Alex Hofford/EPA-EFE
Sept. 5 (UPI) -- Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal said Tuesday the government must come up with a plan to recognize same-sex marriage after justices ruled that it had failed to constitutionally come up with a framework.
LGBTQ advocates called it a "partial victory" but a "major development" for having relationships officially recognized. By ruling that the government had a constitutional duty to create a plan, the court gave it two years to do so.
"Given all the considerations, and what the court majority has said, I think this is a major step forward and it is a good thing," said Jerome Yan, co-founder of Hong Kong Marriage Equality.
The appeals panel, made up of five justices, heard arguments in June from LGBTQ supporters that a lack of marriage acceptance made their marriage appear "less worthy" than heterosexual ones.
Gay marriage supporters and Amnesty International said they were disappointed that the court declined to go a step further to rule same-sex marriage on par with heterosexual marriage.
"It is regrettable that the court saw the constitutional right to marry as being exclusively confined to opposite-sex couples," Piya Muqit, Amnesty International's regional director for East, Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said in a statement.
"But it cannot be ignored that the court still demands that the government provide same-sex couples with formal and general legal recognition to protect their rights, enable them to participate with certainty in social life and recognize their legitimacy."
Muquit called for the Hong Kong government to move swiftly to create a plan to accept same-sex marriage instead of riding out the two-year clock to do so.
"Today can be the start of a more equal society in Hong Kong, but there is still a long road ahead," Muqit said. "It is now crucial that the government does not delay in implementing this ruling as a first step toward ensuring full equality for LGBTI people."