Hong Kong's Home Affairs Bureau has told the British Consulate-General it cannot perform same-sex unions under the United Kingdom's new Civil Partnership Act.
The bureau said permitting the ceremonies would amount to an inappropriate taking of sides during ongoing local debate on legislation banning anti-gay discrimination. The U.K. partnership law allows embassies and consulates to register same-sex unions when at least one partner is a British national and the host government does not object.
Some 3.5 million Hong Kong citizens hold British National ( Overseas ) passports—a travel document given to Hong Kongers who chose not to become solely citizens of China. In addition, about 200,000 British citizens live in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
Several nations reportedly allow the unions at British consulates and embassies, including Australia, Belarus, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Israel, Japan, Moldova, South Africa, Switzerland, Turkmenistan, Venezuela and Vietnam.
The Web site of the British Consulate-General in Hong Kong says the unions also are offered in the United States but an April 21 statement on the Web site of the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., says: 'For UK Diplomatic missions to be able to carry out these registrations outside of the UK, we have been asked to obtain confirmation from host governments that they have no objection. We have requested confirmation from the US State Department and we are waiting for a reply.'
The British unions are not offered in countries that have their own civil-partnership or same-sex marriage legislation: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain and Sweden. British nationals in those nations must formalize their union under local law and the U.K. will then recognize it.