Sham marriages have long been a favoured method for immigrants attempting to gain permanent residency in the UK.
Now a BBC investigation has revealed that an increasing number of migrants – including students, overstayers and potential economic migrants – are resorting to fake gay marriages in a bid to stay in Britain.
The BBC’s Inside Out programme, in an undercover investigation, found one gang charging a staggering £10,000 to arrange a fake gay marriage.
Peter and Ricardo, the gang’s leaders, told undercover reporters they had “fixed” weddings “lots of times”.
At one point, Ricardo is heard instructing the reporter: “You say ‘I am gay’. No more equestions for you. Easy for gay”.
One of the would-be ‘brides’, Alexandra, said she had organized half a dozen sham same sex marriages previously and offered to organize a ‘romantic photoshoot’ as part of the scam.
Minister for Immigration and Security, James Brokenshire, said he was disturbed by the Inside Out London report and had ordered his enforcement teams to launch an investigation into sham gay weddings as a result.
He said: “Registrars will be given new powers later this year to better identify all fraudulent marriages.”
According to reports, the number of same-sex marriage applications by immigrants has seen a dramatic increase after gay and lesbian marriage was legalized in Britain in March.
Whilst registrars and immigration officials have learnt to spot fake marriages, many investigators say it is far harder to notice if a same-sex is genuine.