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Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013

Part 1 – Consular marriage under UK law

182.Paragraph 1(1) provides a power for Her Majesty by Order in Council to make provision for couples to marry in the presence of a registration officer outside the United Kingdom provided that the conditions in sub-paragraph (2) are met.

183.The conditions in sub-paragraph (2) that must be satisfied in order for a consular marriage to take place are: at least one of the people proposing to marry must be a United Kingdom national; the people proposing to marry would have been eligible to marry in a specified part of the United Kingdom (this caters for a situation where different parts of the United Kingdom allow or do not allow marriage of same sex couples); the authorities of the country or territory in which the consulate is located will not object; and either there are insufficient facilities for them to marry under the law of that country or territory or, in the case of same sex couples, they cannot be married under the law of that country or territory. For example, currently consular marriages are conducted in Saudi Arabia and five other countries in the Middle East, where there are no local facilities and the local authorities have no objection. The United Kingdom government would need to approach host governments in countries where facilities for marriage of same sex couples do not exist to seek their approval to conduct such marriages.

184.Paragraph 2 allows a consular official to refuse to marry a couple if the officer thinks the marriage would be inconsistent with international law or comity of nations (the mutual respect of one nation for another’s usages and practices), although there is a power to provide for an appeal against this decision in the Order in Council referred to in paragraph 1(1). The Order in Council may also include provisions that enable the marriage to be treated as if the couple had been married in the specified part of the United Kingdom for certain purposes.

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