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The Scottish Government believes that all people in Scotland who are eligible to marry or enter into a civil partnership have a right to do so freely without coercion. It believes that it is the duty of Government to protect citizens from pressure, harassment or threats aimed at forcing them into a marriage or civil partnership to which they have not consented or to which they are not capable of consenting.

The Forced Marriage etc. (Protection and Jurisdiction) (Scotland) Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament on 22 March 2011 to provide a specific civil remedy for those threatened with forced marriage and those already in such a marriage. The Act recieved Royal Assent on 27 April 2011 and came into force on 28 November 2011.

Key features of the Act include:

It givesa new power for Scottish courts to grant 'Forced Marriage Protection Orders' to help prevent people being forced into marriage

A Forced Marriage Protection Order may, for example, require a person to:

  • Take the person who is to be protected to a place of safety
  • Bring the protected person to a court at a certain time and place
  • Refrain from violent, threatening or intimidating conduct
  • Appear in court
  • Disclose the whereabouts of a relevant person
  • Refrain from taking the protected person abroad
  • Enable another person to return to the UK within a specified period
  • Submit passports, birth certificates or other documents as required
  • Provide the court with other information as it requires

Applications for an Order can be made by a local authority on behalf of a victim, or by an individual themselves.

Urgent interim Orders will be made in situations where, for example, someone is in immediate danger or at risk of being taken abroad.

Clarification of powers for courts to annul an existing forced marriage.

It is a criminal offence to breach a Forced Marriage Protection Order which can lead to a 2 year prison sentence, a fine, or both.