Tag Archives: marriage

Anti-sham marriage measures could lead to discrimination

By Lauren Beehan

New measures to tackle sham marriages could lead to discrimination and cause insecurity across communities, according to immigration experts.

Experts have reacted with concern to the new provisions of the Immigration Act 2014, intended to prevent marriages solely for immigration purposes, which will come into effect on March 2nd next year.

The provisions will introduce a new referral and investigation scheme, whereby any couple including a non-EEA national will be referred to the Home Office upon applying for permission to marry or enter a civil partnership.

If an investigation takes place, their notice period can be extended to 70 days, compared to the new standard 28-day notice period required of all couples.

Ruth Grove-White of the Migrant Rights Network said that the new laws could lead to the discrimination of genuine couples who wish to marry in the UK.

She said: “We have wide-ranging concerns about government use of enforcement powers in registry offices. We have accounts from communities of immigration raids taking place in registry offices on Home Office suspicions, causing disruption to perfectly legal marriage ceremonies.

“The government laws increase their licence to discriminate against couples who meet their profile, causing fear and insecurity in communities when people wish to get married.”

She added that the scale of sham marriages was very low compared to the scope of enforcement powers to stop them.

Couples who may be investigated under the new provisions include those who have not made concrete arrangements to cohabit in the UK, who do not share financial or domestic responsibilities, or who cannot communicate in a common language.

Couples may also be investigated if the British partner has previously sponsored another partner or if they have no guests present at their wedding ceremony.

These couples will need to prove that their marriage or partnership is genuine before permission is granted.

Immigration lawyer Colin Yeo expressed concern that there is no statutory definition of a “genuine marriage” in UK law.

In an online statement, he said that the decision on whether or not a marriage is genuine will be left to Home Office civil servants, who will be working from a checklist of factors that may trigger suspicion.

He said: “This checklist determines who will experience that sort of start to their married life. As with many measures under the Immigration Act 2014, ethnic minorities and the poor are far, far more likely to be targeted.”

Introducing the provisions in Westminster yesterday, Minister for Security and Immigration James Brokenshire said that the measures would provide “a much stronger platform for effective, systematic action to disrupt and deter sham marriages and civil partnerships and prevent them gaining an immigration advantage.”

He added: “The new system will give us much more time and information to identify and act against sham marriages and civil partnerships before they happen and, where they do go ahead, we will have the evidence we need on file to be able to refuse any subsequent immigration application in terms which will withstand appeal.”










Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall set to marry in Edinburgh

Cannongate Kirk Edinburgh Source: Telegraph

By Celeste Carrigan

As Royal Wedding fever starts to set in across the UK, Scotland is starting to prepare for the 2nd of Royal Marriages to happen this Year. Princess Ann’s daughter Zara Phillips and fiancé rugby player Mike Tindall have chosen to hold their nuptials in Edinburgh. The summer wedding will be a small family affair, with the ceremony happening at Cannogate Kirk on the Royal Mile . The reception will take place at the Queen’s Scottish residence Palace of Holyroodhouse. Further updates on this story to follow in the tv news bulletin on Edinburgh Napier News.

Scotland Lead the Way to a Brighter Future

New legislation will ensure forced marriage is a thing for the history books.

Scottish government ministers today revealed proposals to pass a bill of rights making forced marriages a thing of the past.

The legislation enables courts to pass prison sentences of up to two years and issue annulments on any marriage found to cause emotional distress. Friends and family of victims also have the right to voice any concern to the police.

This comes as a direct response to current campaigning by the Scottish Women’s Association (SWA) who last week held their annual conference in Edinburgh where discussions were drawn to a close and action taken.

Lily Greenan, Managing Director of Scottish Women’s Aid was present at the conference.

“It was suggested by senior police and court officials that the issue is now a big enough problem in Edinburgh to require legislation,” she said.

Home office statistics show that 4000 women in the UK are forced into marriage every year, and 17, 000 women are victims of honour related violence.

Women’s protection charity Shakti, based in Edinburgh, say the move is long overdue.

“This act is particularly important as it sends a strong message to communities throughout Scotland, that forced marriage is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

The latest measure will stop cases such as Puja’s from occurring. After her marriage turned from bad to worse, her husband started beating her, and forbid her from seeing her only son. She had nowhere to turn for fear that her situation would deteriorate. This law will give men and women such as Puja legal protection as it will provide them with a safe environment and an escape.

Lothian and Borders police say this is a very positive step, which has been needed for a long time, but that public prejudice remains.

A police statement said: “Education also needs to be addressed with regards to the situation. An arranged marriage is a cultural and consensual practice but a forced marriage is an entirely different thing. It is an enforced situation whereby men and women feel trapped within their circumstances.”

Women’s charities hope the bill will raise awareness between the difference as the two are very different, and that difference is not well known. SWA  expressed relief and that this positive step was taken, saying: “The fact that there is now a protection order shows valuable steps have been taken to ensure that anyone in breach of this will be identified as committing a criminal offense”.

Kirk Weddings Down because of Ceremony Cost

By Vibecke Gudmundsen

Fewer couples get married in the Kirk because of the cost of church weddings, a Church of Scotland minister has said.

The number of weddings conducted in the Church of Scotland has suffered a strong decline over the last years, falling 11,4% from 2001 to the end of 2007, according to the General Register of Scotland. However, the increase in number on civil marriages shows that people are still getting married, just not in the Kirk. Wedding

“We cannot discount the fact of the sheer cost of a traditional church wedding as an explanation for the decline”, said Reverend Angus Morrison, convener of the Convener of the Church of Scotland Mission and Discipleship Council.

The cost of a traditional church wedding today can vary from £200 to £1000, but for most churches the cost is typically around £400. The price includes the use of the church, marriage service and certificate, a publication of banns of marriage, an organist and a church officer. However, if you want flowers and decoration, a choir and bells you have to pay up to an additional £300. The charge does not include a video license, which is required by the government if you are recording the ceremony, which is a further £100.

Civil weddings up

However, Reverend Morrison underlined that there are many other possible explanations for the downfall in weddings in the Kirk.

“There are factors such as couples waiting till they are older before marrying, cohabitation as a trend influenced by the increase in divorce as there seems to be evidence the children of divorced or separated parents are more likely to cohabit. And of course there is the increasing use of civil ceremonies for marriage”, he said.

“I wonder too if the increasingly common offer by hotels of all-in wedding packages encourages the use of civil ceremonies.”

51,8% of the Scottish population who got married the last year used civil ceremonies, which is up 13% from 2001. That year the number of both weddings in the Kirk and civil ceremonies was 38%, but the two has since then gone in separate directions.

Weddings within other denominations such as the Roman Catholic Church and so-called “other religions” seem to reflect the same situation, but only to a certain extent over the last five years. The figures went down a small period, but are now back to their starting point on 6,5% and 15,9%, respectively.

Not active Kirk members

Morningside Parish Church
Morningside Parish Church

Reverend Derek Browning, minister of Morningside Parish of the Church of Scotland, said there are signs that the reasons why people want to get married in the Church are changing.

“I have many more requests from couples who are simply looking for somewhere ‘nice’ to get married, than from people who are active members of the church”, he said.

His parish has an average of four weddings every year, but only one out of the four couples are actively involved and committed to the Church.

“A large percentage of the couples I marry have moved away from their family home but still have a strong family connection to the church.”

Because a parish system is still operated in Scotland couples cannot get married in whichever church they wish. The three factors that decide in which church you can wed are; the couple, one or both, are active members of the church; or the couple has a strong, live family connections with the church; or the couple live within the geographical area of the parish.

“If they don’t fall into any of the three categories I direct them to their parish minister. Everyone in Scotland will live in someone’s parish.”

However, Reverend Browning stands strong on that every couple shall be treated the same way, no matter agenda.

“All couples that I marry are encouraged to attend a course on what it means to be a Christian. Many come into church membership, though this is not required for marriage, and it is a good way for them to get to know me and the church”, he said.

To see figures on marriages in Scotland click here.