All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group report: Any lawful impediment?

‘Humanist marriages should be legally recognised in England and Wales’, says a May 2018 report (pdf) from the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group.

This report looks into the legal recognition of humanist marriage in
England and Wales.

The report finds:

  • Parliament almost passed legal recognition during the passage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, but the Government instead saw the Act amended to mandate a public consultation first as well as take the power to bring in humanist marriage by statutory instrument
  • The main concern of the Ministry of Justice and Law Commission appeared to be inconsistencies around venues. Humanists UK wishes to be able to marry people outdoors, which most religious groups cannot. But three religious groups can in fact already do this
  • In Scotland, humanist marriages gained legal recognition in 2005, and have risen in number from 85 in the first year to over 4,900 in 2016.

The report recommends:

  • The Government to lay an Order under section 14 of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 for legal recognition of marriages conducted by Humanists UK
  • Local authorities are mindful of their obligation, under the public sector equality duty, to ‘remove or minimise disadvantages suffered by persons
    who share a relevant protected characteristic that are connected to
    that characteristic’, and this may mean taking steps to ensure that non statutory ceremonies are more readily available to humanist couples
  • Local authorities that market non-statutory commercial ceremonies also need to ensure that they do not abuse their dominant position – as the only entities able to register legal marriages other than religious entities.

Read the full report (pdf).

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