LGBTQ+ activists call on Tory government to officially recognise humanist marriages

A collection of LGBTQ+ groups is urging the government to legally recognise humanist marriages in England and Wales.

Humanist weddings are non-religious and performed by a humanist celebrant. Within the UK, they are only legally recognised in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Jersey and Guernsey.

In an open letter to justice secretary Dominic Raab, which focuses on the impact a law change would have for same-sex couples, the signatories push for immediate change, saying that few religious groups offer same-sex marriages.

“The lack of recognition of humanist marriages only reduces same-sex couples’ options further,” they added.

The campaign is spearheaded by Humanist UK patrons, Sandi Toksvig and Stephen Fry.

Other to have signed the letter include activist Peter Tatchell, the Terrence Higgins Trust and key executive members from each of the LGBTQ+ wings of the Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Labour parties.

You may like to watch

They are permittedin England and Wales, but require a separate “signing the register” ceremony to take place a few days before or after a wedding, typically at a register office to make the partnership legally valid.

The letter states these extra steps are “a significant financial and administrative burden”, and ultimately an “unacceptable state of affairs” given that the most recent census data showed that 63 per cent of people who said they are lesbian, gay or bisexual identified as having no religion.

England and Wales ‘must’ recognise humanist marriages

Legal recognition of humanist marriages has been under review by the government since 2013.

“That’s more than long enough,” the letter said.

“If the UK wants to be a global leader when it comes to promoting the freedoms of LGBTQ+ people, it must recognise humanist marriages in England and Wales.”

Humanists UK’s chief executive, Andrew Copson, believes legal recognition of humanist marriages would be good for couples, marriage and the economy.

“It would strengthen freedom of religion or belief, and level England and Wales up to Scotland and Northern Ireland,” he said. “It is what the public wants. It is past time it happens.”

PinkNews has contacted Dominic Raab for comment.

Please login or register to comment on this story.