Everyone has the right to choose their own partner. Scottish law supports that right.
The Forced Marriage etc (Protection and Jurisdiction) (Scotland) Act 2011 provides adults, young people and children at risk of being forced into marriage, as well as those who have already been victims of a forced marriage, with powerful legal rights.
Where a forced marriage has occurred or where the threat of a forced marriage is suspected, a Forced Marriage Protection Order (FMPO) can be granted by the civil sheriff courts. A FMPO is designed to prevent a forced marriage from happening or to offer protective measures when one has taken place. Orders can be tailored to meet the specific needs of an individual case and may contain prohibitions, restrictions or requirements to stop or change the conduct of those who would force the victim into marriage. This can include the actions of any third parties who are not directly involved in the case but might be aiding another person to force, or attempt to force, someone into a marriage.
Victims and potential victims of forced marriage can make a direct application to the court to apply for a FMPO. The new legislation also allows for applications from third parties such as support agencies and local authorities on behalf of a victim. Under the new law, it is local authorities that have the power to apply for a FMPO without the permission of the court, including the application for an interim FMPO where the victim is seen to be in immediate danger.
It is a criminal offence to breach a FMPO, which could result in a two-year prison sentence, a fine of up to £10,000 or both.