Sham Marriage Law Breaches Religious, Human Rights

April 10, 2006

Source: BBC News

On April 10, 2006 BBC News reported, "Tough government rules to prevent sham marriages discriminate against immigrants, the High Court has ruled. In a significant defeat for the government, Mr Justice Silber said the rules were unreasonable and breached human rights... The rules, introduced in February 2005, mean people born outside the EU and some bordering European nations who have only six months' permission to be in the UK must seek special permission from the Home Office to marry, irrespective of the status of their partner. The application costs £135 and only 76 specially selected register offices can deal with the proposed marriage. If the home secretary refused permission to marry, there is no right of appeal, other than to apply to the High Court. The only exemption is for people who marry in the Church of England... The judge said that he found the regime to be incompatible with human rights law because people who wanted to marry within the Church of England were not subject to the same scrutiny as those choosing another type of wedding. People seeking to marry within other faiths, principally other branches of Christianity, Hinduism, Islam or Sikhism, were not given a similar benefit of the doubt where ministers of religion were content the proposed wedding was genuine."