Transsexual wins right to marry in landmark Hong Kong case
May 13, 2013 -- Updated 0730 GMT (1530 HKT)
Michael Vidler, the lawyer of a transsexual woman who won a landmark case, talks to the press in Hong Kong on May 13.
- A transsexual woman has won on appeal the right to marry her boyfriend in a landmark case
- She was refused the right to marry as she did not quality as a "woman" under Hong Kong law
- The 37-year-old, known as 'W,' had a sex change operation more than five years ago
- Judges noted the decision does not address the question of same-sex marriage
(CNN) -- A transsexual woman has won on appeal the right to marry her boyfriend, a decision poised to rewrite Hong Kong's marriage law.
The appellant -- known only by the initial "W" -- is a post-operative male-to-female transsexual who was refused the right to marry because she did not quality as a "woman" under Hong Kong law.
The Court of Final Appeal ruled 4-1 Monday that the restriction was unconstitutional. The 37-year-old woman -- who had a government-subsidized sex change operation -- had twice lost her case at lower courts.
"I may have born a man but after transgender surgery at a government hospital more than five years ago, I've lived my life as a woman and been treated as a woman in all respects except as regards my right to marry," W said in a statement to local reporters through her attorney, Michael Vidler, according to the South China Morning Press.
"This decision rights that wrong, and I'm very happy the Court of [Final] Appeal now recognizes my desire to marry my boyfriend one day, and that desire is no different to that of any other woman who seeks the same here in Hong Kong."
The court decision will not come into effect for 12 months to give the Hong Kong legislature the opportunity to address the portion of the law deemed unconstitutional. "We should make it clear that nothing in this judgment is intended to address the question of same sex marriage," Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li and Judge Robert Ribeiro wrote in their majority decision.
The majority found the idea that a "woman" is a biological criteria fixed at birth "is particularly hard to justify in the light of significant medical advances in the treatment of transsexualism and important changes in the understanding of and social attitudes towards transsexual persons which have occurred over the last 40 odd years."
The only dissenting judge -- Patrick Chan Siu-Oi -- argued "it is difficult and unrealistic to consider marriage to be entirely unconnected with procreation.
"There is no evidence that social attitudes in Hong Kong on the institution of marriage have changed to the extent that this concept of marriage has been abandoned or generally and substantially weakened," Judge Chan wrote.
Part of complete coverage on
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 2029 GMT (0429 HKT)
You -- the person now reading this story -- can help experts solve the mystery of what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
Track star Oscar Pistorius is accused of killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Follow live updates of South Africa's trial of the century.
March 13, 2014 -- Updated 0522 GMT (1322 HKT)
At least two people were killed Wednesday after a massive explosion and raging fire in Manhattan's East Harlem, authorities said.
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 1015 GMT (1815 HKT)
There's nothing like lying on your back and staring up at a field of glittering stars. Here's where you can go for that:
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 1040 GMT (1840 HKT)
CNN's Anna Coren travels to Kerch where Russian troops are moving in.
March 13, 2014 -- Updated 0546 GMT (1346 HKT)
Until clearer information comes to light, here's a summary of what we know, and what we don't.
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
Michael Schumacher might be in a medically induced coma but the Formula One great has shown enough "small, encouraging signs."
The Fukushima nuclear disaster changed global attitudes towards nuclear power. Explore our interactive to find out how.
March 13, 2014 -- Updated 0230 GMT (1030 HKT)
An adventurer explores Japan's abandoned sex museums -- some of the things he finds are "very, very weird."
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 1214 GMT (2014 HKT)
People should demand to know how the secret drone campaign makes them safer, writes Clare Algar.
March 13, 2014 -- Updated 0608 GMT (1408 HKT)
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 1759 GMT (0159 HKT)
A new study reveals the continent's leading tweeting cities. Explore our infographic of the results.
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 1309 GMT (2109 HKT)
Why there is a troubling beauty in this series of striking images.
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 1429 GMT (2229 HKT)
This 200-year-old mechanical boy can write poems and draw pictures.
Today's five most popular stories