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Last Updated: Friday, 8 February 2008, 11:17 GMT
Gay Asians 'marrying to conform'
By Naresh Puri
BBC News

Ring being placed on finger
Some gay Asians have been attacked
Asian gays and lesbians in the UK have married people of the opposite sex in a bid to conform to traditional values and beliefs, it has been claimed.

Gay activists said these marriages happened because some members of their community felt homosexuals brought shame on their people.

They said in some cases gay and lesbian people had been beaten and abused.

The BBC has seen hundreds of people advertising on the internet for so-called marriages of convenience.

One of them is 19-year-old Rubina, from south-east England, who placed an advert on an Asian gay website.

She said: "I just want to make life easier, I want to get my family off my back, because they're pressurising me to get married.

"In my culture it's not acceptable to be gay. If I have a marriage of convenience it will give them the illusion that I'm straight and I can carry on with who I want."

Arranged marriage

She said her family thought she was leading an independent lifestyle and would soon give in to their requests for an arranged marriage.

"If you'd been raised by parents who love you, it's difficult to let people down that you care for. You don't want them to disown you, that's why I need to fit in with Asian society and have a marriage of convenience," she said.

Fazal Mahmood is a gay rights campaigner and one of a handful of Asians prepared to speak out.

He said he was pressured by his family to get married and from this relationship he had a son. He is now divorced.

We're living in a modern day society and it's wrong that this persecution carries on
Rubina

"I've seen 16 year olds and even 40 year olds being forced into marriage just to make their family and community happy," he said.

"The situation is so serious - we've heard about gays and lesbians being attacked because of their sexuality. We've even had cases where people have tried to commit suicide because Asian society will not accept or tolerate homosexuals."

Balbir Grewal, from the Guru Granth Sikh temple, in Southall, west London, said marriages of convenience were a sin.

"The whole family suffers. We are living in 2008 and it's time they should come out to the parents. Asian weddings are so expensive and then the parents have to go through the heartache of finding out that their children have lied to them.

"I've even heard that parents have died because of the shock of finding out about these pretend marriages. But for Asian gays and lesbians, the situation is very difficult.

Rubina said: "I wish that people would understand sexuality is only one part of a person and my message to parents is that being gay or lesbian does not change your child.

"People must learn more about gays and lesbians. We're living in a modern day society and it's wrong that this persecution carries on. It's unacceptable."

VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
One Asian lesbian's reasons for marriage



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