• Filipino Christian pastor Marrz Balaoro is fighting for same-sex marriage in Hong Kong. (AFP)
“We cannot do it in the open because of fear of arrest.”
By
Samuel Leighton-Dore

14 May 2019 - 2:40 PM  UPDATED 14 May 2019 - 2:40 PM

As transgender pastor in Hong Kong is fighting for the right to conduct religious marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples.

Marrz Balaoro, whose small church welcomes all sexualities, says that a fear of arrest is behind his decision to take the government to court. According to PhilStar Global, the 62-year old was previously arrested in 2017 on suspicion of breaking Hong Kong's marriage laws by officiating 'Holy Union' ceremonies at the city's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Straight (LGBTS) Christian Church. 

While the charges were eventually dropped, the pastor's resolution has not.

Speaking to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Balaoro said: "I asked (the police) for a written confirmation that I would not get arrested when I officiate a holy union again and they refused."

He added: "We cannot do it in the open because of fear of arrest."

Balaoro's judicial review case, which he filed at Hong Kong's High Court last week, argues that the right to freedom of worship includes allowing the faithful to officiate holy unions as they see fit.

"We should not be threatened with prosecution because it is our freedom of religion," Balaoro said.

"We can have rights to conduct holy unions because nothing prohibits us from doing that because we are protected under the law."

While a victory in court would allow Balaoro to conduct same-sex marriages, they wouldn't be recognised legally.

"More countries are opening up... maybe it is time for Hong Kong to also open up," Balaoro said.

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