Fake same-sex weddings for illegal immigrants were being organised by criminal gangs in the UK within weeks of the new marriage legislation coming into effect, according to a BBC investigation.
For the programme Inside Out London, a female undercover reporter posed as someone wanting a fake marriage and a gang offered her two potential Romanian ‘brides’ at a cost of £10,000.
The brides stated openly that they were not homosexual, but said “romantic” photo shoots could be arranged alongside other tactics to deceive immigration officers.
The gang sorting out the fake wedding told Inside Out that false gay marriages are easy to arrange.
Ricardo, one of the gang’s leaders, explained that he had never experienced trouble from immigration officers or the police.
“You say ‘I am gay’. No more questions for you. Easy for gay”, he said.
The gang leaders told the undercover reporters they had “fixed” weddings many times.
Mark Rimmer, head of Registration and Nationality Services at Brent Council, commented: “I think it is probably more difficult to spot the signs if you have a same sex couple whether they be male or female.”
There are no statistics yet for fake gay marriages, but according to Rimmer, it is thought that up to 20 to 30 per cent of heterosexual marriages in many London boroughs are “actually for the avoidance of immigration control”.
Between 29 March and the end of June this year, 1,409 same-sex marriages were officially registered.
As a result of the BBC investigation James Brokenshire, Minister for Immigration and Security, has ordered enforcement teams to launch an investigation into sham same-sex weddings.
“Registrars will be given new powers later this year to better identify all fraudulent marriages”, he stated.