A British-Asian peer has been accused of bigotry after she claimed that marriages between first cousins in Pakistani communities were leading to "absolutely appalling" disabilities among children.

The crossbencher Baroness Flather, who has described herself as a Hindu atheist, called for couples intending to marry to be required to take a DNA test to check they are not cousins.

Lady Flather, the first female Asian peer, told the Lords during a debate on ethnic minorities: "There are a lot of first-cousin marriages in certain communities, particularly among Pakistanis who come from the Pakistani Kashmir area.

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