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Forced marriage is often associated with heterosexual women being forced to marry a man against their will. Whilst this is often the case, West Midlands Police have advised the BBC that a growing number of gay and lesbian people are contacting the police after being forced to have a heterosexual wedding by their family members.

In the last year at least thirty cases were reported to the Forced Marriage Unit. The sad reality, however, is that hundreds more people are likely affected by forged marriage amongst their communities.

What is a forced marriage?

A forced marriage is where one or both people do not consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used. In the UK, it is illegal and recognised as a form of violence against women and men. (Source: BBC)

The pressure put on individuals often comprises emotional, psychological and physical abuse.

Speaking with the BBC Detective Sergeant Trudy Gittins, from the West Midlands force, 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."

Regardless of sex or sexual orientation - forced marriage is illegal. It is not ok nor is it an acceptable part of society.

It is possible to obtain protection from forced marriage.

An order known as a Forced Marriage Protection Order can be applied for if:-

1. You or someone else is being forced into marriage; or

2. You have already been forced into a marriage.

Such orders are made and specifically tailored to best protect the individual person's circumstances.

Dependent on the circumstances it may be necessary for an application to be made to Court straight away. We endeavour to book appointments as soon as possible for those that need help and advice urgently.

If you or someone you know fear that you may be forced into a marriage contact our Family Helpline on 08000 147720, email or text LAW to 67777 to book a free thirty minute consultation at any of our offices across West Yorkshire to discuss matters in a confidential manner or to obtain further information. We also offer early morning and late evening appointments across our offices