SCMP, October 6, 2003 A gay couple married in Canada are raising the stakes in their battle to have their union recognised in Hong Kong. Roddy Shaw Kwok-wah and Nelson Ng Chin-pang say the administration must recognise their marital status or they will seek a judicial review of the matter. Mr Shaw and Mr Ng were wed previously in a civil ceremony in Vermont in the United States, but were told by the Inland Revenue Department that the union was not a marriage according to Hong Kong law and that they were not entitled to a joint tax assessment. Mr Shaw plans to appeal against the department's decision on the basis that he and Mr Ng were married for a second time last month in Toronto. Two Canadian states - Ontario and British Columbia - have legalised gay marriages. Mr Shaw has also been seeking legal advice about applying for a judicial review if the department decides to stand by its original decision. 'The Inland Revenue Ordinance states clearly that marriages contracted overseas should be recognised for the purpose of taxation,' he said. 'We are seeking first to update our marital status and second, a joint assessment.' In response to a letter from the rights activist earlier this year, one of the department's tax assessors said same-sex marriages would not be recognised because the law referred to marriage as being between 'man and wife'. But Mr Shaw argues that the law binds local authorities to recognise an overseas marriage 'whether or not so recognised' in Hong Kong as long as it was 'according to the law of the place where it was entered into and between persons having the capacity to do so', as stated in the ordinance. 'Nelson and I both want to pursue further studies and each needs to support the other financially while we do that,' said Mr Shaw, who recently completed a masters of law degree in human rights. 'We need to be jointly assessed and will take this matter as far as resources permit.' A letter from the department last month cited procedural reasons as to why Mr Shaw and Mr Ng's application for joint assessment had been turned down, but it did not touch on the issue of marital status. 'Some people may say that even if the Hong Kong government recognises Canadian same-sex marriages, very few people would be able to travel there to get married,' Mr Shaw said. 'But somebody has to test that path to see if it is viable in the first place.' There have been reports of couples in the United States trying to test the laws there by entering into Canadian marriages, but Mr Shaw and Mr Ng are the first-known such cases outside North America. 'I believe recognition will also pave the way for some sort of legalisation of same-sex marriages in Hong Kong. It will [put] pressure on the government to [allow] ... people going all the way [to Canada] to get the benefits they are entitled to as spouses. Any responsible government cannot turn a blind eye to this situation.' Mr Shaw and Mr Ng were married in a small ceremony at the United Church of Canada on September 16 with a few friends and some Canadian-Asian gay activists. They have been together for five years.