Sajjad welcomes marriage age law change

British MEP Sajjad Karim has welcomed the decision to allow under 21 year olds to marry non-EU nationals.

The law, introduced in 2008, stated that foreign spouses and their sponsors in the UK must meet a minimum age of 21 before the foreign spouse could be granted a visa. Although it was designed to stop forced marriages, the Supreme Court ruled the change in the law disproportionately interfered with the rights of those who were in genuine marriages.

UK Immigration Minister Damian Green said there was "no place in British society for the practice of forced marriage" and the government was now looking at what more could be done to identify and assist those at risk.

The Supreme Court said the number of forced marriages it had deterred was 'highly debatable'.

North West MEP Sajjad Karim said, "I welcome the decision to treat all spouses and civil partners equally. It made no sense that if you married a Polish citizen you could do so at 18, but, if you married an Australian you had to wait until you were 21."

"The government is expected to launch a fresh consultation on forced marriages before Christmas and I welcome the Prime Minister's commitment to work closely with other Commonwealth nations on this issue."

The new rules will come into effect on 28 November 2011.