ICC Note: The former chief officer at the Equal Opportunities Commission in Hong Kong loses his gratuity due to his comments against same-sex marriage at his church. Mr. Josiah Chok Kin-ming worked for EOC for 18 years and was eligible to receive HK$ 867,000 gratuity which is given to commission members upon fulfillment of their contract. Chok won the first ruling against EOC in 2015 which enabled him to receive his gratuity. However, the commission convinced the High Court in March to send the case back to tribunal. The tribunal found Chock’s speech about same-sex marriage in conflict with his role as an EOC officer, and he did not only lose his gratuity, but was also ordered to pay legal costs. Chok argued that the decision was unconstitutional and that commission was prying into his private life when he attended his church event.
09/28/2017 Hong Kong (South China Morning Post) –A former top official of Hong Kong’s equality watchdog lost his gratuity payment of HK$867,000 after the Labour Tribunal found on Thursday he should not be entitled to the claim following his comments against same-sex marriage.
Josiah Chok Kin-ming was further ordered to pay HK$9,842.50 in legal costs to the Equal Opportunities Commission. The case was a retrial, as the commission had won an appeal against an earlier ruling awarding Chok the gratuity. It then brought the matter back to the tribunal.
The commission welcomed the ruling, and said in a statement that it respected its employees’ freedom of speech but that they were required to declare any conflicts of interest if they were involved in activities in direct opposition to their work.
Equality official harmed credibility of watchdog with church comments, says EOC chief
But the legal battle may continue as Chok has vowed to appeal, claiming the tribunal sided with his former employer.
The dispute centred on comments he made at a forum on discrimination laws and same-sex marriage, organised by his church in August 2014, while he was chief equal opportunities officer.
The commission at the time was holding a public consultation on a review of discrimination laws, and Chok had volunteered to join a task force on the matter.
But without telling the commission, he spoke against same-sex marriage at the church forum and taught attendees how to oppose the reform. “I cannot see a single reason to offer support,” Chok was recorded as saying.
His comments drew backlash from the LGBT community and its supporters, prompting the commission to issue a statement distancing itself from his stance.