The documentary “Inside Out” went undercover and spoke to a gang who specialise in arranging sham gay marriages for immigration purposes.
The facilitators charged £10,000 to arrange the fake marriages. The scheme works by matching a heterosexual immigrant with someone of the same gender who has an EU passport. The person with the UE passport gets paid to take part and the immigrant gains the right to live and work in the UK.
During the documentary the illegal gang sourced two women who were willing to get married as a lesbian couple and even arranged for a photo shoot in a park so that they could pose for photographs in an effort to create a shared past to fool the authorities.
The Romanian fixer told the undercover reporter that he had arranged many fake gay weddings and that the process is easy. He explained that registrars and other officials do not ask questions about gay couples.
Same-sex marriage was made legal in March this year. It seems that criminal gangs and immigrants who wish to stay in the UK are aware that although the authorities are well trained and experienced in spotting sham heterosexual weddings, they are less likely to ask questions of gay couples who are getting married.
Mark Rimmer, head of registration and nationality services at Brent Council in north-west London, told the BBC: ‘Here in Brent, the Home Office stop marriages on a weekly basis.
‘In many boroughs in London the thought is that up to 20 to 30 per cent of marriages are actually for the avoidance of immigration control.’
He went on to explain that registrars can find it harder to spot fraudulent same-sex couples:
‘I think it is probably more difficult to spot the signs if you have a same-sex couple, whether they be male or female,’ he told the BBC. ‘They [criminal gangs] are probably justified in their belief that it may be easier to get away with it if it is a same-sex couple.