Britain’s first Asian peer has decried the prevalence of marriages among first cousins in the Pakistani community.
In a speech to the House of Lords, Baroness Flather called for mandatory DNA tests for couples who wish to marry in order to ensure they are not related.
Marriage between first cousins is legal in the UK, but Baroness Flather pointed to the high number of such unions in Pakistani communities, particularly those from the disputed Kashmir region in South Asia.
“We know so much about DNA now, but there is so much disability among the children, which is absolutely appalling.”
The crossbench peer claimed that among families where first cousins have married and had “four or five children, at least one or two … will have some disability”, which she described as “absolutely unacceptable”.
She declared that a rule should be introduced “which says that you must have a DNA examination before your marriage can be registered.”
Approximately three per cent of babies born in the UK are from a Pakistani background, but according to a report from The Telegraph, as many as 30 per cent of babies born with a genetic illness are from that community.
Baroness Flather is a British Indian who became a life peer for the Conservative party in June 1990. Since then, she has left the party, re-joined and left again. She has been a crossbench peer since 2008 and was the first Hindu woman in British politics.