Britain’s Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) says that there has been an increase in the number of gay men being forced into heterosexual marriages by their families.

While the vast majority (86 per cent) of victims are female, reported cases of men being forced into marriage jumped from 134 in 2008 to 220 in 2009, an increase of 65 per cent. The unit believes that this represents only a fraction of such incidents, with the majority not being reported.

The reasons behind the forced marriages can be varied, but male victims are often forced to marry women because their families know or suspect they are gay or bisexual.

“Forced marriage is a form of domestic abuse and will not be tolerated,” said James Brokenshire, minister for crime prevention.

“These figures are proof that both men and women are victims of forced marriage so it’s vitally important that we encourage those who work with young people to contact the forced marriage unit if they have any concerns, and that victims who have been affected come forward and get the help they need.”

The unit said that the cases that it was aware of tended to involved British men with family links to countries such as Pakistan, India and Bangladesh and regions including the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe.

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