British Citizens Living Abroad Can Now Marry in Some UK Consulates Overseas.

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Three months on from the legalisation of gay marriage in England and Wales, and we're still seeing the effects brought about by the law change.

From June 3rd 2014, British consulates can perform same-sex marriages in certain overseas territories. Providing that:

  • Gay marriage is prohibited by the host government

  • The host state has agreed to allow the consulate to perform the ceremony

  • At least one member of the couple is a British citizen.

  • The ceremony takes place on the property of the consulate

    The marriage will NOT be recognised by the host country, but it will be recognised by other governments who have legalised same-sex marriage within their own borders.

To make this clearer,

  1. Debbie and Donna live in Australia, but neither of them are British citizens so they cannot be married in the consulate.

  2. Debbie and Donna live in Hong Kong, one is a British citizen but they can't get married because the HK Government has not given the UK permission to perform same-sex weddings. (see below).

  3. Debbie and Donna live in France,  and one is a British citizen, but they can't be married in a consulate because France already allows gay marriages.

  4. Debbie and Donna live in China, and one of them is a British citizen. They can be married at a consulate, but their marriage will not be recognised by Chinese law.

Gov.uk had this to say on their website:

"The ‘Consular Marriage and Marriages under Foreign Law Order 2014’ comes into force on 3 June and means that same sex marriages will be able to take place at British Consulates in the following countries: Australia, Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Cambodia, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Japan, Kosovo, Latvia, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nicaragua, Peru, Philippines, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, and Vietnam."

Furthermore:

"This list of countries is limited 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."

You can find out more via the website here 

As representatives of the UK abroad, consulates are keen to assist British citizens living overseas, but they are still at the mercy of the host country. Hong Kong, for example, have recently said they will not permit ceremonies to take place anywhere, including within consulate properties. Although, in a comment to the BBC, they were keen to insist:

"Although Hong Kong does not have laws on same-sex marriage, the government is firmly committed to promoting equal opportunities on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity." 

You can find the rest of the website here 

Have you ever lived abroad? Do you live abroad now? Would you marry in a consulate?

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