Marriage: Humanism

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 6th July 2021.

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Photo of Jeff Smith Jeff Smith Shadow Minister (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of granting interim, time-limited legal recognition to humanist marriages on the same basis as has been given for outdoor civil marriages.

Photo of Jeff Smith Jeff Smith Shadow Minister (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the potential merits of granting legal recognition of (a) outdoor civil marriages and (b) humanist marriages to help tackle the backlog in demand for officiants who can conduct legally recognised marriages.

Photo of Jeff Smith Jeff Smith Shadow Minister (Housing, Communities and Local Government)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what assessment he has made of the additional covid-19 risks faced by humanist couples as a result of being required to hold both a humanist wedding in line with their beliefs and a marriage ceremony conferring legal recognition.

Photo of Alex Chalk Alex Chalk Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

A Law Commission report due later this year is expected to present options for wholesale reform to the law governing marriage ceremonies, which the Government will consider carefully. Options being explored by the Law Commission include offering couples greater flexibility to form their own ceremonies, allowing the ceremony to take place in a much broader range of locations, and powers to hold weddings remotely in a national emergency. The Government will decide on provision for non-religious belief marriage on the basis of the Law Commission's recommendations.

Delivery of registration services falls to local authorities who continue to manage the demand for civil marriage within their respective geographical areas during recovery from the pandemic.

The Government has published guidance on gov.uk to assist couples in planning for their marriage or civil partnership formation in England, and for venues that host ceremonies and receptions to enable them to prepare for these events. The guidance sets out how this can be done in a manner that is safe and complies with legal requirements and social distancing guidelines. The Welsh Government has published similar guidance in respect of Wales.

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