"Marriage is for adults," Karen Ellemann said, as quoted by the Danish newspaper Berlingske. "We must not allow people under the age of 18 to marry or validate marriages involving minors from abroad."
According to the minister, she became aware of the problem more than a year ago, when more "child brides" appeared at a number of asylum centers around Denmark. The Social and Interior Ministry estimates that it gets 16 such cases per year.
Danish authorities have hitherto recognized foreign marriages, contracted by minors. Additionally, couples may seek permission to get married if they are under 18. The waiver which allows marriage for under 18-year-olds under extraordinary circumstances will be scrapped under the new law. Furthermore, the automatic acceptance of foreign marriages in which either of the partners is underage will be canceled. Ellemann is also considering further tightening Denmark's marriage laws, which do not explicitly ban polygamy or forced marriage.
"I will put the law under the microscope to see if there is more to be cleaned up," Ellemann said. "The law should clearly reflect the notion that neither polygamy nor forced marriages are accepted here in Denmark."
Ellemann is known for her campaign to streamline procedures for the Danish authorities' handling of cases involving foreign marriages of minors. By her own admission, the proposed tightening of marriage laws has been backed up by the ruling conservative coalition, the so-called blue bloc, which includes the Liberal Party, the Danish People's Party, the Liberal Alliance and the Conservatives.
Earlier, specific regulations had been approved in both Norway and Sweden. If a person associated with Norway or Sweden goes abroad and gets married as a minor, the marriage is rendered invalid when he or she returns.