Date
19 October 2017
Hong Kong's High Court is set to hear a petition filed by an immigration department official for recognition of same-sex marriage. Photos: HKEJ, www.bastillepost.com
Hong Kong's High Court is set to hear a petition filed by an immigration department official for recognition of same-sex marriage. Photos: HKEJ, www.bastillepost.com

Civil servant seeks judicial review on gay marriage

A civil servant has filed a writ in the High Court to challenge the government’s refusal to recognize his same-sex marriage and grant him the same rights and benefits that are due to married persons.

In the writ that was filed last Thursday, senior immigration officer Angus Leung Chun-kwong complained that his marriage status was not recognized by the Civil Service Bureau (CSB) and the Inland Revenue Department (IRD).

Leung, who joined the Immigration Department in 2002 and was promoted to his current position the following year, said in the document that he became aware of his sexual orientation in high school and that he fell in love with a New Zealand man, Scott Paul Adams, in 2012. 

He applied to the Civil Service Bureau for change of his marital status before he got married on April 18 last year in New Zealand. He acquired a marriage certificate in that country at the end of the same month. 

After he returned to Hong Kong, he was told by the CSB that his marriage in New Zealand was not consistent with Hong Kong’s Marriage Ordinance, which defines a marriage as “the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman”.

Leung said he presented his case to the bureau several times but the discussions proved fruitless.

As a result, he and his partner were denied the benefits and subsidies offered to married civil servants and their spouses, Leung said in the court document which runs to more than 100 pages.

Among the benefits denied were medical and dental insurance, according to an Apple Daily report.

Meanwhile, the IRD’s e-filing system rejected Leung’s bid to put “male” in the column of spouse’s sex when he tried to file a tax return.

When he made an inquiry, the department gave him the same answer as that provided by the Civil Service Bureau — that his marriage was invalid.

A senior tax assessor told Leung that the rule applies to both gay and lesbian marriages.

Leung said in the writ that the decision means he cannot enjoy the married person’s allowance and that he has to pay more taxes instead, which is unfair.

Claiming that both the CSB and the IRD violated the Basic Law, Hong Kong Bill of Rights, Sex Discrimination Ordinance and the government’s policy against sex orientation discrimination, Leung asked the court to validate his marriage and order the government agencies to treat him and his partner in the same way as they would do any straight couple.

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TL/AC/RC

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