Marriage: Humanism

(asked on 5th October 2020) - View Source

Question to the Ministry of Justice:

To ask Her Majesty's Government, following the High Court judgement in R (Harrison and others) v Secretary of State for Justice [2020] EWHC 2096 (Admin), what plans they have to extend legal recognition to humanist marriages, after the current Law Commission review of marriages concludes.

Answered by
Baroness Scott of Bybrook Portrait
Baroness Scott of Bybrook
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)
This question was answered on 19th October 2020

The Government announced in June 2019 that the Law Commission will conduct a fundamental review of the law on how and where people can legally marry in England and Wales. As part of that review, the Government invited the Law Commission to make recommendations about how marriage by humanist and other non-religious belief organisations could be incorporated into a revised or new scheme for all marriages that is simple, fair and consistent.

The Commission initially delayed its publication of the consultation paper due to the Coronavirus pandemic, but the consultation launched on 3 September 2020 and will last until 3 December 2020. The law on wedding ceremonies is a complex and important area of the law. The Commission considered it essential to conduct a proper consultation with the wide range of interested groups and individuals who would be affected by reform. It did not feel that publishing during the initial period of public emergency would achieve this, particularly when weddings were being postponed.

The Commission expects to report to Government with its recommendations in the second half of next year. The Government will decide on provision on the basis of the Law Commission's recommendations.

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