Gay and Lesbian rights groups expressed outrage at the Hong Kong government’s objection to same-sex weddings being carried out in its British consulate although the unions can now be performed in British consulates in mainland China, Russia, Azerbaijan and 20 other countries that have previously been criticised for their LGBT attitudes.
A spokeswoman for the British consulate told South China Morning Post that “Unfortunately, the Hong Kong government has raised an objection to the solemnisation of same-sex marriages in Hong Kong”, provoking criticism from LGBT groups.
Last week’s news revealing that same-sex couples can marry in 23 British consulates across the world initially brought about much joy in the LGBT communities. The announcement from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said that as long as that host government does not object, then ceremonies can be conducted. Despite the central Chinese government agreeing to this, Hong Kong’s government objected, and therefore the British consulate has been banned from performing any ceremonies.
Nigel Collett, secretary for gay rights group Pink Alliance, commented that “They’re blocking every stage of the way to same-sex marriage, thinking if they give an inch it’ll come to pass in Hong Kong”. Collett is due to marry his Singaporean partner next August in Britain, and although this decision does not effect his plans he believes the government is “denying any form of increase of rights” for this community.
This decision may be viewed as harsh by many as previous studies into Hong Kong public opinion surrounding same sex couples have shown mass support for giving them increased rights. Christian groups are among those who outrightly object to advancement for homosexual couples’ rights, and perhaps one of the reasons Hong Kong is being kept from liberating LGBT communities. This disapproval from Christian communities has even seeped into the schooling system where the Morality Contract outlines that teachers must be heterosexual.
This was a huge disappointment for Betty Grisoni, co-founder of Double Happiness, the first organisation in Hong Kong dedicated to lobbying for the interests of LGBT couples and gay marriage. “We are especially outraged by this … there’s a very strong homophobic group lobbying for this”.
Their mission is to push for the right to marry in the consulates of countries where same-sex marriages and civil unions are legal, with the longstanding hope of getting recognition from the Hong Kong government itself to recognise LGBT unions.
“Most of our friends are here, I’ve been living here for 12 years, and not been living in France for over 23 years. Why can’t we get married where most of our friends are? It’s just not fair”.
By Sophie Regan
[Image Credit: -Marlith-]