Humanists UK calls for UN resolution against forced marriage to address religious coercion

23 June, 2023

Humanists UK has urged the UN to address religious harms in an upcoming resolution on child, early, and forced marriage. The intervention was delivered to the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls during the 53rd session of the Human Rights Council. Humanists UK stressed the heavy influence in this regard of religious practices on the oppression of women and girls and those in the LGBT community.

The intervention was delivered by video to the Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls. Humanists UK’s representative Blend Ademi said:

‘Forced marriage is a global issue that has multiple social drivers, such as poverty and lack of education, but the most prominent of these are religious and cultural practices “that discriminate against and harm women and girls”. In Afghanistan, economic factors ultimately facilitating forced marriage are aggravated through the crackdown by the Taliban on women’s access to education and their positioning as second-class citizens in general, justified by instrumentalising “fallacious interpretations of religion”.

‘In the UK, an independent review into faith engagement demonstrated how the UK Government falls short in tackling forced marriage and recommends preventative measures including the provision of training for faith leaders to spot signs of coercion. The same review highlighted the underreported and often overlooked use of forced marriage as a means of ‘conversion’ against lesbians and bisexual women as part of the wider LGBTQ+ community.’

He proceeded to ask the Special Rapporteur how she intends to ‘encourage states to support a resolution on child, early, and forced marriage that addresses the harms of religious dogma on women and girls, including those in the LBGTQ+ community.’


For further comment or information, media should contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at or phone 020 7324 3072 or 020 3675 0959.

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Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 110,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.