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Revealed: LGBT Asians forced into heterosexual arranged marriages, police say

July 20, 2017

UTTAR PRADESH, INDIA - AUGUST 2: 15 year old Priyanka (name changed) poses for a photo on August 2, 2016 in Uttar Pradesh, India. She was raped by a neighbor last year when she was 14 years old. The neighbor had been harassing her for a long time and then one night he came on motorcycles with friends and threatened to kill her if she didn't get on the bike with him. He took her to a friend's house and raped her. For 10 days the police refused to register a case against him and when they did, they held her for two days in the station until she agreed to say in the statement that she went willingly with the him. Priyaka and her family say that he comes from a rich, influential family. The people in her village gossip, they say that she ran away willingly with him and that she did bad things. After the rape he continues to harass her, sending his friends to tell her that if he sees her he will kill her, that he will come and kidnap her sisters, that he will kill her father. Recently the rapist and his friends saw her father on the road and they beat up him. Two weeks ago Priyanka was wed to a 22 year old man in a marriage that her family arranged for her. They were worried about her safety and Priyanka thought that she would be safer if she was married and living in a different village. Her husband doesn't know about the rape, and the rapist has sent letters to her home threatening to tell her new family and break up the marriage. "I feel angry. There's nothing left in me." Priyanka says. (Photo by Getty Images)

Hundreds of gay and lesbian people in the UK are being forced into arranged heterosexual marriages, research has found.

West Midlands Police say the number of people contacting them regarding a forced straight marriage has markedly increased.

Being gay remains staunchly frowned upon among considerable sections of the South Asian community.

The force say they had at least 30 cases of LGBT people contacting them regarding forced marriages in the last year.

However the figure is likely to be significantly higher, with most feeling too ashamed to report their situations.

Many fear that they will bring shame on their families if they speak out about their situation.

Some past cases have involved young LGBT people being falsely imprisoned, beaten and even sexually assaulted by family members.

The BBC has been contacted by 22 LGBT people from the community who say they have faced the situation.

Many confirmed they felt obliged to go ahead for fear of the repercussions.

Det Sgt Trudy Gittins, from the West Midlands force, said the people coming forward from the LGBT community in recent months are from all walks of life.

She 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,” she said.

“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.”

Figures from the Foreign Office and Home Office show 30 LGBT people who contacted the unit last year were among the 1,428 people who asked for help.

The government says it acknowledges that actual numbers involving LGBT people could be “significantly higher”, as it did not explicitly ask people whether their sexuality was the trigger for the forced marriage.

More: asian, forced marriages, Gay, lesbian, LGBT, marriage, Politics, UK, wedding

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