Thank you to the constituents who have been contacting me about humanist marriages.
I absolutely agree it is time for the UK 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.
As you are aware, humanist marriages are legally recognised in Scotland and have been since 2005. I strongly believe that denying thousands of people the choice of a humanist wedding in England and Wales is unequal and unfair.
It is over seven years since Parliament voted, through the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, to give the UK Government the power to legally recognise humanist marriages. I am very concerned that we are still waiting for decisive progress on this issue.
I also share your concerns that the current legal position on humanist marriages in England and Wales is increasing demand on civil registrars, who are facing a backlog due to the pandemic. This issue was raised in Parliament last year. Disappointingly, the UK Government said it had no plans to change the current rules. I believe it must rethink this decision, in order to save couples who want to have a humanist wedding from having to have a second, civil wedding.
As you know, the Law Commission is conducting a review into reforming wedding law. It ran a consultation between September 2020 and January 2021, and is now analysing the responses. The Law Commission has said it is aiming to publish a final report with recommendations at the end of 2021.
The UK Government has recently said it will decide on provision for non-religious belief marriage on the basis of the Law Commission’s recommendations. I hope that the Government will take this matter seriously and implement marriage reform so that humanist couples are given the same opportunity to marry as their religious counterparts.
Thank you once again for contacting me and for sharing your views about this important issue.