The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) has reported an increase in the number of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) teenagers coming forward to ask for help from them:
This year, the FMU has dealt with 29 confirmed cases of forced marriage involving gay men and women. Last year, the unit offered support and advice to nearly 1,700 cases in total.
Just how many of those involved lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) victims is unknown, because not everyone is willing to divulge their sexuality. However, it is thought this emerging trend is just the tip of the iceberg, as more gay men and women seek assistance.
A number have been referred by the Albert Kennedy trust, which specialises in helping LGBT teenagers. Many of these teenagers have been forced into marriage either because their parents don’t know about their sexuality, or else see marriage as a way to ‘cure’ their children from being NEH (Not Exclusively Heterosexual). One girl, Reviva, interviewed by the BBC, spoke about her experiences once her parents found out about her sexuality:
The troubled teenager was taken to her grandmother’s house in the Middle East where, as she recalls with a chilling lack of emotion, her parents tried persuading her to take her own life. “I was damaging the family honour. I was making the family looking like a modernised, westernised, filthy family. So what they wanted to do is get rid of what is damaging the honour.
“They put you in a room on your own, I don’t get any food, or any water, and I have to just sit there and wait to die or kill myself.” To aid the process, a gun, a knife, and pills were left in the room, along with a can of petrol and a box of matches. In her view, Reviva says it would have amounted to murder, not suicide, should she have decided to kill herself.
Many LGBT teenagers, whatever their backgrounds, feel that they have no one to turn to about their issues (though organisations do exist, as shown above), given the bullying and abuse that can result from such a revelation, whether at school or at home. Until this is tackled, LGBT teenagers forced into a marriage will feel even more isolated than their heterosexual counterparts. That is certainly not to excuse the attitudes which lead to forced marriage, but rather highlight areas others can work on in order to reduce this practice by making LGBT teenagers feel as though there are more people they can turn to.
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Filed in: 'Honour'-based violence,Sex equality