Bill to prevent forced marriage personally backed by Tony Blair

Tony Blair has personally backed a private member’s bill seeking to prevent forced marriage and it now looks set to become law.

The bill will allow victims to take out an injunction to stop a marriage, or claim compensation if forced into one. It was introduced by Liberal Democrat peer Lord Lester.

The prime minister called forced marriage “an inhuman and highly damaging practice” last week. His comments came in a open letter to Southall Black Sisters, Refuge and other groups who have campaigned against forced marriage.

“I wanted to tell you personally about the government’s intention to support the bill and to help strengthen the protections it gives to prevent people being married against their will,” wrote Blair.

Injunctions and compensation are civil remedies that can proceed without involving the police, and are intended to be easier than using criminal law.

The government decided against making forced marriage a specific criminal offence, following consultation.

 “We have looked to see how better use of existing legislation, civil remedies and the family courts could increase protection,” says Blair in his letter.

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