Gay Couples Can Marry in Russia, Other Countries in British Consulate
The British newspaper the Telegraph reports same-sex marriages can now take place in the British consulates of 23 countries around the world, including nations where gay marriage isn't legal, like Russia, Serbia, Hungary and Azerbaijan. The marriages, however, won't be recognized under foreign law.
"The Foreign Office has opened the doors of its missions to British nationals and their partners who wish to wed but are unable to under foreign laws," the newspaper writes.
The former Foreign Office minister and openly gay British politician Chris Bryant told the Telegraph he hopes the move will be "celebrated" in countries that don't recognize same-sex marriage, especially in Russia where the country's LGBTQ community is persecuted under controversial anti-gay laws.
"Part of the Foreign Office's job is to export British values abroad," Bryant told the newspaper. "Just as people have been able to perform civil partnerships in countries like Australia, Russia and Iran, so now they can get married. Russia is meant to be a signatory top the European Convention of human rights. I hope that when they start seeing gay and lesbian couples getting married in the British consulate in Moscow they will celebrate rather than denigrate and persecute.
There are many countries in the world where there is prejudice and active persecution against LGBT people," he continued. "All too often the state and the church is complicit."
Officials from the Foreign Office said that they are offering same-sex marriages in 23 countries where same-sex marriage is not legal and "local authorities" have approved of the ceremonies.
"This is a really positive step forward for same sex couples around the world," Ruth Hunt, acting chief executive of the LGBT group Stonewall, told the Telegraph. "We look forward to a day when every single country will recognize these relationships in exactly the same way as marriages of heterosexual people."
She did point out that the marriages will not be recognized under foreign law, which means that same-sex couples will still be denied the benefits of marriage.
Last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill into law that punishes people who spread "homosexual propaganda." Those who violate the measure are subjected to fines and jail time.
Here is a list of all the countries where same-sex couples can tie the knot at the British consulates: 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.