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Utah officiant marries 10 same-sex couples in Hong Kong via video chat to celebrate Pride Month

Hong Kong Same Sex Marriage
Posted at 6:20 AM, Jun 26, 2024

HONG KONG (AP) — Ten same-sex couples got married in the United States over the internet from Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous southern Chinese city that does not formally recognize such unions but offers them legal protections.

The event Tuesday was timed to mark Pride Month, with a registered officiant from Utah making their marriages official. Most states require the couple to appear in person to fill out paperwork and present identification, but Utah does not, and its digital application process has made it a go-to for online weddings since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Family members gathered in a hotel wedding hall in Hong Kong's Kowloon district as couples exchanged rings, then raised their glasses in a toast.

"I hope one day that everybody would accept the fact that love is not just between a man and a woman. It's between two people who love each other," said Lucas Peng, a 66-year-old Singaporean businessperson living in Hong Kong, and one of the 20 people tying the knot in Tuesday's semi-virtual event.

"It's just two humans who love each other. That's the key. That's the important part. And to be able to publicly declare our love for each other today is a very important step for us, definitely," Peng said.

Wedding organizer Kurt Tung said he hoped the event would send a message to the public.

"In Hong Kong, there's not yet a way to go to a marriage registry to get married, but there's still this way we can offer for them to realize their dreams of getting married," Tung said.

Keeping with cultural and religious traditions, Hong Kong only recognizes weddings between a man and a woman. Self-governing Taiwan is the closest place that issues same-sex marriages, and Hong Kong recognizes those couples' legal rights, though the city doesn't call them marriages. It has no laws banning same-sex relationships.

In September, the Hong Kong's top court ruled that the local government should provide a legal framework for recognizing same-sex partnerships, including rights to inheritance, joint custody of children, taxation, spousal visas and benefits from employment with the local government.

That came after LGBTQ+ rights activist Jimmy Sham, who married his husband in New York in 2013, raised a challenge at the city's Court of Final Appeal that Hong Kong's laws violated the constitutional right to equality. That contrasts with the increasingly conservative political tone in the Asian financial hub, where edicts from the authoritarian Communist Party leadership in Beijing have led to criticism from around the world that it's squashing democratic rights and free speech.