As MPs set off to canvass the views of their constituents on same-sex marriage, the Attorney General’s Department issued a discussion paper on a far more tragic form of marriage. Comment is sought in response to the discussion paper on forced and servile marriage. As the paper outlines, countries such as Belgium, Denmark, France, and the United Kingdom have introduced measures to combat forced marriage, ranging from raising the minimum age at which a female can marry, to introducing specific legistalation to criminalise the practice, to the United Kingdom’s Forced Marriage Unit, which provides support for women (and some men) in the United Kingdom, and has also intervened to repatriate British women who have been forced into marriage in their families’ country of origin. The Australian government is considering possible reforms to address the issue here.
If there is a situation worse than being denied the right to marry the person of your choice because you are the same gender, then being forced into marriage against your will would have to be it. But while the moral case against forced marriage is straightforward, finding the most appropriate means to combat the practice is less so. The government is likely to hear a range of different ideas on that question during the consultation period.