gaymarriage_2245445bHong Kong: Hong Kong has refused British citizens living in its territory permission to make use of a new British law that allows same-sex couples to marry at a United Kingdom consulate.

The ‘Consular Marriage and Marriages under Foreign Law Order 2014′ that came into force June 3 allows  marriages between same sex couples to take place at British Consulates.

However, the Hong Kong government has refused to allow same-sex couples to marry at the British consulate in the city, UK officials said.

British consulates are available only in 23 countries because British missions are only able to provide a same-sex marriage service in countries where it is not possible for British nationals to have such a marriage under local law and where the local authorities have given permission for the missions to conduct consular marriages of same sex couples.

The service coincides with legislation that legally allow same-sex marriage in England and Wales on March 29.

Hong Kong is a former British colony and its refusal comes as a surprise to many LGBT groups especially since China which it is a part of has granted its approval even though it does not accept marriages of same-sex couples.

“Before the UK legislation that governs same-sex marriages was implemented earlier this month, we asked the Hong Kong Government for their agreement to perform such ceremonies here,” a spokesperson for the British Consulate General said in statement emailed to AFP.

“Unfortunately, the Hong Kong government has raised an objection to the solemnization of same sex marriages in Hong Kong,” the statement said.

Hong Kong’s LGBT activists expressed outrage at their government’s decision.

Nigel Collett, secretary for gay rights group Pink Alliance, accused the government of “denying any form of increase of rights” for gay people in the city.

Hong Kong is making a fool of itself while Beijing has taken a more sensible view for something that does not concern their citizens, he told AFP.

Same-sex marriages and civil partnerships are illegal in socially conservative Hong Kong, where same-sex relations was only decriminalized in 1991.

More than 20 countries where same-sex marriage is not legal have agreed to allow their British consulates to perform the marriages, including Australia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, China, Colombia, Japan, Mongolia, Philippines, and Vietnam.