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HONG KONG (Reuters) - A transsexual woman won an appeal in a Hong Kong court on Monday to marry her boyfriend, forcing the government to rewrite marriage laws in the city.
The Court of Final Appeal, by a majority of four to one, ruled that the appellant, identified only as W, was entitled to be included as a woman and was therefore eligible to marry a man.
"This is a victory for all women in Hong Kong," W said through her lawyer after the ruling. "I'm very happy that the court of 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."
China, usually more conservative in its provisions of laws on social change, has already permitted transexuals to marry.
Same-sex marriage is not permitted in either Hong Kong or the mainland.
The judges ruled it was unconstitutional to impair the right of W, a Hong Kong permanent resident, to marry.
"Viewing the realities of W's position, by denying a post-operative transsexual woman like her the right to marry a man, the statutory provisions in question deny her the right to marry at all," they said in their ruling.
The court said implementation of its ruling would be suspended for 12 months to give the government time to amend legislation to the Marriage Ordinance. The woman could marry at the end of the 12-month period even if legislation was not in place.
W, who is in her thirties, underwent surgery to become a woman between 2005 and 2008. She then acquired a new identity card showing her sex as female.
But the marriage registrar refused her request to marry a man, saying "for the purpose of marriage, only an individual's sex at birth counts and any operative intervention is ignored".
She lost her case twice before taking it to the top court in the former British colony.
Reporting By Grace Li; Editing by Ron Popeski