Hong Kong Legislative Council oath-taking controversy

The Hong Kong Legislative Council members' oath-taking controversy was a series of events surrounding the oaths of office of a dozen pro-democracy and localist members-elect of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong (LegCo) on 12 October 2016 which have resulted in the disqualification of six members, Sixtus "Baggio" Leung and Yau Wai-ching of Youngspiration, who were unseated by the court on 15 November 2016, and Leung Kwok-hung, Nathan Law, Yiu Chung-yim and Lau Siu-lai on 14 July 2017.

The pro-democracy members-elect have used the oath-taking ceremonies at each inaugural meeting as a platform of protest since 2004, during which they have held objects or shouted slogans. On 12 October 2016, the inaugural meeting of the 6th Legislative Council, a dozen of members-elect used the occasion to protest, highlighted by the pro-independence Youngspiration legislators, Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching, who asserted "as a member of the Legislative Council, I shall pay earnest efforts in keeping guard over the interests of the Hong Kong nation," displayed a "Hong Kong is not China" banner, and mispronounced "People's Republic of China" as "people's re-fucking of Chee-na". As a result, the oaths of the two, as well as that of Yiu Chung-yim, who also inserted his own words, were invalidated by the LegCo secretary-general Kenneth Chen and the oath of Lau Siu-lai, who spent about ten minutes reading the 80-word oath in extreme slow motion, was invalidated by the LegCo President Andrew Leung.

The controversy escalated when Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen, on 18 October, unprecedentedly launched a judicial review seeking the disqualification of Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching. This was followed by the walkout staged by pro-Beijing legislators to force adjournment and block the pair and Lau Siu-lai from retaking their oaths on the following day after Yiu Chung-yim had retaken his oath. Lau Siu-lai eventually retook her oath on 2 November.

On 7 November 2016, despite the pan-democrats' opposition, the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) controversially interpreted Article 104 of the Basic Law of Hong Kong to "clarify" the requirements that the legislators need to swear allegiance to Hong Kong as part of China when they take office, stating that a person "who intentionally reads out words which do not accord with the wording of the oath prescribed by law, or takes the oath in a manner which is not sincere or not solemn"[1] should be barred from taking their public office and cannot retake the oath. As a consequence, the court disqualified Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching on 15 November. The oaths of a dozen of pro-democracy legislators and a few pro-Beijing legislators were also under legal challenges.

On 2 December 2016, the government launched a second legal action against four more pro-democracy legislators, Leung Kwok-hung of the League of Social Democrats, Nathan Law of Demosistō, Yiu Chung-yim and Lau Siu-lai, over their manners at the oath-taking ceremony. As a result, the four legislators were disqualified by the court on 14 July 2017.