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Introduction

Following the ruling and observations made by the Court of Final Appeal in the case of W v Registrar of Marriages [2013] 3 HKLRD 90; FACV 4/2012 (13 May 2013), the Inter-departmental Working Group on Gender Recognition (“IWG”) was established in January 2014 to consider whether it is necessary to introduce legislation and incidental administrative measures to deal with issues concerning gender recognition in Hong Kong.


Terms of Reference

The Terms of Reference of the IWG are:

  1. To consider legislation and incidental administrative measures that may be required to protect the rights of transsexual persons Note in all legal contexts, and to make such recommendations for reform as may be appropriate.
  2. For the aforesaid purpose, to conduct consultations and to engage the assistance of such experts or professionals as may be appropriate.

Note: “The World Health Organisation classifies transsexualism as a species of gender identity disorder involving: ‘a desire to live and be accepted as a member of the opposite sex, usually accompanied by a sense of discomfort with, or inappropriateness of, one’s anatomical sex, and a wish to have surgery and hormonal treatment to make one’s body as congruent as possible with one’s preferred sex.’ ”: see Court of Final Appeal judgment in W v The Registrar of Marriages [2013] 3 HKLRD 90; FACV 4/2012 (13 May 2013), at paragraph 5, quoting The World Health Organisation, “International Statistical Classification of Disease and Related Health Problems” (version 10), F64.


Membership

The IWG is chaired by the Secretary for Justice, with members from the legal community and representatives of relevant bureaux. The members are:

Mr Rimsky Yuen, SC, Secretary for Justice (Chairman)
Mr Stewart Wong, SC
Mr Eric Cheung, Principal Lecturer, University of Hong Kong
Deputy Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs
Deputy Secretary for Food and Health (Health)
Deputy Secretary for Security.
Ms Michelle Ainsworth, Principal Government Counsel, is the IWG’s Secretary.


Scope of the IWG’s study

The IWG’s study is divided into two parts, covering: firstly, the need to establish a gender recognition scheme, if any, the criteria for determining whether a person is eligible for legal gender recognition and the relevant procedure (“recognition issues”); and secondly, issues arising in consequence of legal gender recognition (“post-recognition issues”). For the avoidance of doubt, it should be noted that other issues – such as same-sex marriage, civil partnership and discrimination against sexual minorities – are outside the scope of the IWG’s study.


Consultation

The IWG will consult widely in the course of its work before finalising its recommendations to the Government.

The IWG issued a public consultation paper on Part 1: Gender Recognition on 23 June 2017. The consultation period will end on 31 October 2017.

The IWG plans to submit a report to the Government after completing both parts of the study.