South Asian LGBT: 'online sham marriage searches are tip of the iceberg'

South Asian LGBT 'online sham marriage searches are tip of the iceberg'

South Asian LGBT people sometimes have sham marriages (Stock image)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A campaign group has claimed the amount of South Asian LGBT people searching for the opposite sex online for sham marriages is "the tip of the iceberg", as helpline calls on the issue rise.

Karma Nirvana, a human rights group, claims many from the community are scared of being disowned by their families if they come out as LGBT, according to the BBC.

There are several websites online that include marriages of convenience forums, each with hundreds of members.

Karma Nirvana has revealed that it received just 93 calls about LGBT issues in 2015, but in 2016 this rose to 124. There have been 205 calls so far this year.

Jasvinder Sanghera, the founder and chief executive of the group said: "I believe the stories of marriages of convenience and the issues of LGBT communities is very much a hidden issue.

"The extent of the problem is going to be far more than we are seeing and hearing." Heexplained that for some from the South Asian community, they could not just face being ostracised and disowned – but could also be harmed or killed.

A gay man from Leeds was involved in a sham marriage, and told the BBC it took the pair three years of planning as they had to consider details like where they would live and how they would visit family.

He explained that he married as he didn't want his family name dragged through the "mud" by coming out but eventually the pressure of the lie led the couple to get divorced after eight years.

He said: "I almost think my mum would be proud that I did it to save the family name and standing within the community" however his family "wouldn't understand the reason why I couldn't do it anymore and why I felt I needed to get a divorce and live the life that I wanted to live."