Hong Kong rejects motion to consider same-sex unions

Hong Kong's parliament rejected a motion that could have paved the way to legalising same-sex unions on Thursday, in a region where no country allows gay or lesbian couples to marry.

The measure, which would have urged the government to consider granting "equal rights" to same-sex couples, was rejected by 27 votes to 24 on Thursday, with six abstentions, Hong Kong's Legislative Council said on its website.

"The government keeps avoiding studying policies for homosexual groups," the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong newspaper, quoted gay lawmaker Raymond Chan, who proposed the motion, as saying. "Opponents of this motion have to explain why they reject even such a small step forward."

No countries in Asia allow same-sex couples to marry or enter civil unions of any kind. Socially conservative attitudes prevail across the region, and opponents of same-sex marriage say such unions could destroy society and family institutions.

Homosexuality was decriminalised in 1991 in Hong Kong, which is more supportive of LGBT+ rights than mainland China. However, marriage is legally defined as a monogamous union between a man and a woman and same-sex marriage is not recognised. Read more via Openly