Hong Kong’s Department of Justice has appealed the High Court’s ruling in April to grant civil service marriage welfare benefits to a gay couple.

Thursday’s decision to appeal comes after 27,000 individuals, 80 civil groups and five lawmakers filed a petition asking the government to act.

File photo: GovHK.

The applicant in the original judicial review was an immigration officer, who applied to the Civil Service Bureau for a change in his marital status to obtain benefits for his husband, whom he married in New Zealand. The bureau had rejected the application.

The High Court ruled in his favour in April, and ordered a change in government policy by September.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice declined a request by Stand News for comment, citing ongoing legal proceedings.

See also: ‘Protect family values’: Hong Kong gov’t urged to appeal ruling on marriage benefits for gay couple

In a Facebook post, openly gay pro-democracy lawmaker Ray Chan contrasted the decision with recent events in Taiwan: “Just as Taiwan celebrates a marriage equality ruling, Hong Kong’s government filed the appeal against Angus Leung.”

ray chan chi-chuen
Ray Chan. File Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

The officer filed the judicial review in 2015 citing violations of the Basic Law, the Hong Kong Bill of Rights and the Sexual Discrimination Ordinance.

Although the High Court’s approved of civil service welfare benefits being offered to his husband, it rejected his application for the Inland Revenue Department to jointly assess the couple’s taxes.

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.