Marriage: Humanism

(asked on 1st July 2021) - View Source

Question to the Ministry of Justice:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of legally recognising humanist marriages on choice for same-sex couples wanting to get married.

This question was answered on 15th July 2021

The Marriage (Same Sex) Couples Act 2013 enables same-sex couples to have a civil marriage and also allows religious organisations to opt in to marry same-sex couples, should they wish to do so. Separately, Government consulted in 2014 on marriages by non-religious belief organisations. A summary assessment of costs and benefits was published in the response, which can be found at

The Government in 2019 committed to accelerate plans to allow civil weddings and civil partnerships to be held outside and said it would look to implement these changes through secondary legislation, subject to any necessary consultation. On 1 July, time limited amending regulations came into force to allow couples who can already legally marry to have their civil wedding ceremony in the linked outdoor areas of Approved Premises. The Government will undertake a public consultation on these measures and intends to produce an Impact Assessment. A further instrument will be laid in Spring 2022.

A Law Commission project on marriage and civil partnership is due to report later this year and is expected to present recommendations for wholesale reform to the law governing marriage ceremonies, which the Government will consider carefully. Options being explored by the Law Commission as part of their review include offering couples greater flexibility over the form of their ceremony, allowing the ceremony to take place in a much broader range of locations and to provide a framework that could allow non-religious belief organisations, such as Humanists and independent celebrants, to conduct legally binding weddings. The Government will decide on provision for non-religious belief marriage in light of the Law Commission's recommendations.

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