When Patrick Sinclair and his husband, Marty Forth, moved to Hong Kong, they took a step back in time. Hong Kong doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage or civil partnerships. That meant Sinclair, a former assistant U.S. attorney in New York who was joining a multinational law firm, couldn’t sponsor Forth for the visa that opposite-sex spouses typically receive. Instead, Forth entered Hong Kong as a visitor and had to make cross-border trips to avoid overstaying his short-term visa. He also couldn’t get a job or join a business, according to Immigration Department rules for visitors. “There’s an emotional toll to it,” Forth says. “You’re not counted. You’re not included.”
As they fight against their second-class status, LGBT people in Hong Kong have allies in the city’s crucial financial sector. Goldman Sachs Group, BlackRock, and Deutsche Bank are among 15 financial institutions that have filed an application with the city’s high court in a landmark case on LGBT rights, according to a statement released on April 12 by Davis Polk & Wardwell, the law firm representing them and where Sinclair is a partner. (He isn’t working on the case.) The companies are supporting a British woman who sued after being denied a visa as a dependent of her same-sex civil partner. She won a court ruling in her favor, but the government is appealing it.