Two recent Hong Kong cases have highlighted the developing dissonance between family law norms in Hong Kong and other jurisdictions. The first entailed a challenge to the Hong Kong Director of Immigration’s refusal to recognize an overseas same-sex civil partnership as analogous to marriage. The second concerned a parental order for a child born overseas as a result of a surrogacy arrangement to an unmarried commissioning couple. These two cases challenged a specific conceptualization of the family in Hong Kong law: a preference for a heterosexual, married couple as the basis for the family unit. However, other common law jurisdictions would recognize the applicants’ claims to family status, as do international human rights principles. This article explores the scope and intersection of Hong Kong’s family law values, its private international law obligations, and the potential for invoking the public policy exception in these cases. In doing so, it tests the extent to which Hong Kong law’s conceptualization of the “Ideal Family” can be legitimately imposed to oust the claims of the “Other Family” to legal recognition.
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