Court bid to legally recognise humanist weddings

Court bid to legally recognise humanist weddings


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Six {couples} are taking a landmark problem to the High Court subsequent week in a bid to get authorized recognition for humanist weddings in England and Wales.

Currently, humanist ceremonies are usually not recognised in regulation, so {couples} should even have a civil ceremony.

Lawyers for the six {couples} say the present regulation discriminates towards them due to their humanist beliefs.

In Scotland and Northern Ireland, the regulation is completely different and humanist ceremonies are legally recognised.

Humanist weddings are non-religious ceremonies that are carried out by a humanist celebrant.

Currently in England and Wales, non-religious weddings are solely authorized if they’re carried out by a registrar.

But humanist weddings grew to become authorized in Scotland in 2005 and in Northern Ireland in 2018, and since then the variety of {couples} choosing such weddings in each nations has soared.

The authorized problem to ask the UK authorities to alter the regulation was lodged on the High Court final November, and can be heard on 7 and eight July.

It is being supported by the charity Humanists UK, which has campaigned on the problem for many years.

The organisation says a change in regulation may assist take care of “the huge backlog” of demand for marriage companies as a result of pandemic.

“Couples who have humanist weddings see that day as the epitome of their love and commitment to each other, and all they want is the same legal recognition for that as is given to every religious person in our country,” mentioned the pinnacle of Humanists UK, Andrew Copson.

“We have tried for decades to address this glaring double standard. Government has dragged its heels and that’s why it’s been left to these couples to bring this case.”

The Ministry of Justice mentioned it desires to “give couples more choice in how they celebrate their commitment to each other” and has requested for a evaluation from the Law Commission to make suggestions “for a simple, fair and consistent system for all”.

The {couples}

“We believe that the act of getting married is profoundly personal and having a humanist ceremony is central to our identities as humanists,” mentioned Kate Harrison and Christopher Sanderson from Lincolnshire.

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Humanists UK

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“We are very happy to be taking a case that will help to create a fairer law,” mentioned Christopher and Kate

The retired couple have been collectively for 14 years and are of their sixties, and say they won’t get married till humanist marriages are recognised.

“It is highly discriminatory that if you have a religion you can get married in a way of your choosing which is compatible with your beliefs, but if you are non-religious, the state has a complete monopoly over how you get married,” they mentioned.

Meanwhile, Jennifer McCalmont and Finbar Graham from Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland, mentioned: “We come from two separate religious backgrounds which neither of us practises and so we didn’t want to be hypocritical in having a religious ceremony.”

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Humanists UK

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Civil servant Jennifer and panorama gardener Finbar say humanism resonates with them

“Living in Northern Ireland we could simply have a legally recognised humanist marriage here but Northam Beach in Devon is special to us as it was the first place we holidayed together.

“Not having the ability to have the ceremony we wish will undoubtedly undermine the importance of the day and devalue our beliefs. The present regulation discriminates towards us as humanists.”

Meanwhile, Victoria Hosegood and Charli Janeway from Kent have postponed their wedding until next year due to the coronavirus pandemic but intend to have a humanist ceremony.

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Humanists UK

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Charli and Victoria say the humanist ceremony “is the most important part” of their marriage ceremony day

“Marriage laws need to reflect the make-up of modern-day society, including the growing numbers of humanists, which is why we think this case is so important,” they mentioned.

Ciaran Moynagh, a solicitor representing a few of the claimants, instructed “momentum is on our side” following the regulation change in Northern Ireland in 2018.

Tory MP Crispin Blunt, who chairs the all-party Parliamentary Humanist Group, mentioned it was “understandable” that the six {couples} had “given up waiting” and chosen the authorized route.

“The government has been considering bringing about legal recognition of humanist marriages for some seven years now, over three different reviews.”

Labour’s religion and perception spokeswoman, shadow minister Janet Daby, mentioned: “It’s time for the government to recognise the thousands of humanists across the country who are simply asking for a legally recognised wedding that is reflective of their beliefs and values.”

Humanists UK say greater than 1,000 {couples} a 12 months have already got a humanist ceremony after which will need to have a separate civil marriage – normally at a registrar’s workplace – for it to be legally recognised.

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