Can Same-sex (LGBTQ) couples Get Married Legally Online?
Overview of Same-sex Marriage
Currently, there are some 30+ countries and territories which have enacted national laws to allow gay and lesbian couples to get married legally. However, these places are mostly in Europe and the Americas. In order to register a lawful same-sex marriage, it’s quite common to see LGBTQ couples travelling to countries like the USA, UK and Canada to tie the knot.
What have been changed?
Due to the pandemic, some States of the USA have allowed legal marriages to take place through a virtual ceremony online. In other words, couples are able to get married legally online through a Zoom Wedding. Most importantly, the online marriage is LGBTQ friendly and it has the same legal status as traditional “offline” marriage under the US Laws. Married couples will receive their Official Marriage Certificate issued by the US authorities.
This has changed everything for same-sex / LGBTQ couples living in Asia because they do not have to travel all the way to Europe or the USA and go through all the legal processes for their marriages in person. With this new solution to get married, a legal marriage has become highly affordable for LGBTQ couples from the Asian countries. We have helped many same-sex couples from Hong Kong, Mainland China and the Philippines etc. register their marriages under the US Laws. For the time being, the British / Canadian governments do not allow weddings to take place without physical presence yet.
Interesting facts: Legality vs Immigration Purpose (Hong Kong as an example)
You may be wondering why LGBTQ couples still had to get married legally while their own countries / cities do not recognise same-sex marriage. In fact, whether a marriage is “legal” does not necessarily have a direct relationship with the use of the marital relationship in various aspects. The legal matters are complicated issues but you can get some ideas after seeing the example in Hong Kong:
First, same-sex marriage is not recognised under the Marriage Laws of Hong Kong and same-sex couples are not allowed to register their marriage legally in Hong Kong. However, married same-sex couples can make good use of their marital relationship for many different purposes. For example, the Hong Kong Immigration Department allows residents to sponsor their same-sex spouse for a dependant (spousal) visa to join them in Hong Kong. The requirement is that the marriage should be legal and officially recognised by the local authorities of the place of celebration. In other words, they will recognise the marriage as well as the spousal relationship of the same-sex couples registered in the USA because same-sex marriage is legally allowed there! That’s also one of the main reasons our clients would go for an official online marriage registered under the US Laws.
There are many others rights that married same-sex couples can enjoy in Hong Kong, including tax assessment, public housing rental, inheritance, visas and parental rights etc.
Legal Rights of Married Same-sex Couples (Hong Kong as an example)
In addition to the visa benefits elaborated above, we have found that there are some important LGBT rights which can be enjoyed in Hong Kong as legally married same-sex couples. While we are not a legal firm and we cannot offer legal advice, the following is a quick summary for general information:
Joint tax assessment is available for married same-sex couples. Same-sex marriage is considered valid under the purview of the Inland Revenue Ordinance in Hong Kong. Same-sex couples can enjoy tax benefits as a married couple for their tax assessment.
It has been legally clarified that the term “spouse” in the Coroners’ Ordinance can both refer to same-sex and opposite-sex spouses. The “surviving spouse” can make after-death formalities for the deceased partner.
Married Same-sex couples are eligible for applying for public rental housing. But there is a court case going on in 2022 and we will see what happens next in this regard.
Same-sex parents can apply for equal parental rights over their children who was naturally born to one of the parents. The court ruled in 2021 that a non-biological mother should be granted joint custody of her children with her ex-partner, who is the biological mother.
How can same sex (LGBTQ) couples get married legally online?
The US Marriage Laws allow same sex couples to get married legally through an online virtual wedding. Even if the couples do not reside in the USA or stay apart in different countries, they are eligible to attend the ZOOM wedding ceremony online. For more details, please go to how to get married legally through a virtual wedding ceremony.