A Hong Kong court on ruled a law banning foreign maids from settling permanently in the city was unconstitutional, in a landmark case for domestic helpers.

Filipina and Indonesian Migrant Workers’ Union members, seen here leaving the High Court, in support of Evangeline Banao Vallejos, a Filipina maid who has lived and worked in Hong Kong since 1986. The court on Friday ruled a law banning foreign maids from settling permanently in the city was unconstitutional, in a landmark case for domestic helpers.

The High Court on Friday said immigration laws barring maids — mostly from the Philippines and Indonesia — from applying for permanent residency violated Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, known as the Basic Law.

The legal action, brought by Evangeline Banao Vallejos, a Philippine domestic helper who has lived in Hong Kong since 1986, has cast a spotlight on the financial hub’s treatment of its army of 292,000 domestic helpers.

“My conclusion is that on the common law interpretation approach the impugned provision is inconsistent with (Hong Kong’s Basic Law),” Judge Johnson Lam wrote in a ruling issued Friday.

“The mere maintenance of (a) link with her country of origin does not mean that (a maid) is not ordinarily resident in Hong Kong.”

Activists said the legal challenge — the first of its kind in Asia — would entrench domestic workers’ right to equality, but opponents fear it will open the floodgates to the immigration of tens of thousands. –http://www.bangkokpost.com/lite/news/259043/maids-win-right-to-apply-for-hong-kong-residency