Sham wedding gangs have begun turning to fake gay weddings to try and fool immigration authorities, a BBC documentary suggests.
According to documentary series Inside Out, gangs operating in the London area have begun supplying ‘lesbian’ bridges with EU passports for staged same sex weddings to try and secure visas for individuals from outside the EU who wish to stay in the UK. They believe officials and registrars are more likely to accept same sex weddings as valid and charge £10,000 per ceremony.
The investigation includes footage of a gang leader claiming that registrars never question same sex couples even if they have suspicions.
He tells an undercover reporter:
“It’s very simple. You say, yeah, I’m gay. No more questions for you, then finished.”
Mark Rimmer who works in registration and nationality services for the London Borough of Brent says registrars are sometimes reluctant to intervene in gay wedding ceremonies. The typical signs that a ceremony has been staged are harder to spot with same sex couples, he claims.
“Many [registrars] are concerned that they may say the wrong thing and end up red faced. I think it’s fair to say that registrars are very well experienced in looking for the signs where opposite sex couples are concerned. But it is much more difficult to spot the signs if you have a same sex couple whether it be male or female.”
An estimated 10,000 staged weddings take place every year, and the rate has more than trebled in recent years, the BBC reports. However, there are no figures currently available for sham gay marriages.
Inside Out London is due to be broadcast tonight (22 September) at 19.30.
In July, a committee of MPs described the increasing number of sham weddings staged in the UK as an “industry of deceit”.
Photo by Archie McPhee via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence