Hundreds of gays and lesbians of South Asian descent in the UK are being forced into marrying people of the opposite sex, according to the police.
The UK’s Forced Marriage Unit, which was set up in 2005, said that 30 LGBT people contacted them last year out of 1428 people.
However, the Foreign Office acknowledges that the figure could be higher, as it did not ask whether their sexuality was the reason behind their forced marriage.
A forced marriage is where an individual is pressurised into a marriage which one or both of the parties does not want.
Forced marriages are illegal in the UK.
Detective Sergeant Trudy Gittins from the West Midlands force told the BBC: “We’ve got professional, well-educated people who still feel that immense pressure because there’s a whole expectation that they will not bring shame on their family.
“Homophobia is rife in some communities and to be seen as being gay or lesbian or bisexual it can absolutely destroy the dynamic of that community and this person just has that burden every single day and it can cause a great deal of anxiety and distress and in some cases they also feel suicidal.”
The Foreign Office has acknowledged that the figures might even be higher as homosexuality is a taboo subject among many members of the South Asian community.