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Foreign spouse ruling upheld

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The government’s efforts to ban foreign spouses aged between 18 and 21 from entering the UK in an attempt to curb forced marriages is unlawful, the Supreme Court has ruled.

Home Secretary Theresa May approached the highest court in the land to overturn a Court of Appeal decision which outlawed the ban. However, by a four to one majority, the Supreme Court rejected Mrs May’s claims that the ban was “arbitrary and disruptive”.

The decision follows campaigns from two couples – Diego and Amber Aguilar, and Shakira Bibi and Suhyal Mohammed. Under Mrs May’s ban, the immigration rules prevented the couples from reuniting as non-European under 21s could not obtain visas.

But four Supreme Court justices have agreed the ban could not stand as it infringed on Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights; the right of the couples to family and private life.

“The Secretary of State has failed to establish that interference with the rights of such couples under Article 8 is justified,” said Lord Wilson.

“First and foremost, although nobody knows the figures, it is clear that the rule will interfere with many more entirely voluntary marriages than it will prevent, deter or delay forced marriages,” added Lady Hale. “The scale and severity of the impact upon these unforced marriages has scarcely been considered.”

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Written by Andrew Hodges

October 21, 2011 at 9:30 am

Posted in Comment, LinkedIn

Tagged with ,

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