“It would be for individual consulates general to decide what functions and services they would wish to provide to their nationals,” the Protocol Department said, according to scmp.com.
It added a caveat, saying such functions were “in line with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and [Hong Kong's] Consular Relations Ordinance”.
It was not clear how the convention and ordinance could be out of line in the British consulate’s case.
The same regulations would apply to the Spanish consulate, which does provide such services in Hong Kong for their nationals.
“There’s obviously something [the British consulate] needs to clarify,” said Nigel Collett, who first raised the matter with the South China Morning Post.
“This effectively opens the door for same-sex marriages at the consulate.”
The British consulate said it would not perform same-sex weddings in Hong Kong because of objection from the local government.
The news drew ire from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and their allies, who asked why missions in supposedly more homophobic places, such as Russia and mainland China, provided the service.
The department added that the city was committed to promoting equal opportunities:
“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 through public education and publicity, with a view to eliminating discrimination and nurturing a culture of diversity, tolerance and mutual respect.”
The missions of Belgium, Sweden and New Zealand said they did not marry even heterosexual couples, while smaller missions such as those of Uruguay and Iceland are honorary consulates
Hong Kong is a former British colony and its refusal comes as a surprise to many LGBT groups especially since China which it is a part of has granted its approval even though it does not accept marriages of same-sex couples.
The ‘Consular Marriage and Marriages under Foreign Law Order 2014′ that came into force June 3 allows marriages between same sex couples to take place at British Consulates.
Same-sex marriage service coincides with legislation that legally allow same-sex marriage in England and Wales on March 29.