Marriage: Humanism

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 19th July 2021.

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Photo of Fleur Anderson Fleur Anderson Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent discussions he has had with the (a) HM Advocate General for Scotland and (b) Attorney General on the merits of the introduction of humanists marriages across the UK.

Photo of Fleur Anderson Fleur Anderson Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what the Government's policy is on the recognition of humanist marriages in (a) England and Wales and (b) Scotland.

Photo of Fleur Anderson Fleur Anderson Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent representations the Government has received on the merits of recognising humanist marriages in England and Wales.

Photo of Fleur Anderson Fleur Anderson Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, whether the Government has recently met with representatives from Humanist organisations to discuss the merits of legally recognising humanist marriages.

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

The Ministry of Justice is responsible for marriage law in England and Wales. Marriage law in Scotland and Northern Ireland is a devolved matter.

The Government has received a number of representations about making separate provision for humanist marriage in England and Wales. As we have made clear, 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 to provide a framework that could allow non-religious belief organisations (such as Humanists) and/or 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.

I met with representatives of Humanists UK on 15 December 2020 and my noble friend Lord Wolfson has committed to a further meeting later this year. In the meantime, officials in the Ministry of Justice will continue to engage with representatives from Humanists UK.

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