Marriage: Humanism

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 4th April 2022.

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Photo of Lord Strasburger Lord Strasburger Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the risk of introducing inconsistencies into the law around marriage if humanist marriages are legislated for before the Law Commission's review in this area has concluded.

Photo of Lord Wolfson of Tredegar Lord Wolfson of Tredegar The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

In 2014, the Government published a consultation paper and response assessing the potential merits of provision for non-religious belief marriages. This concluded that the matter was complex, and that by allowing Humanists to solemnise marriages in unrestricted locations, the Government would create a provision for Humanists that would not be available to all groups.

To ensure we are considering the implications of changing the law on marriage on all groups, we invited the Law Commission to undertake a review which is currently underway and is expected to report in July of this year. By looking at the law comprehensively, the Law Commission will seek to put forward proposals that would ensure that, insofar as possible, groups and couples are all subject to the same rules and the same level of regulation. That reform is not possible by only authorising Humanist weddings, even on a temporary basis pending the Law Commission report.

The Government will carefully consider the Law Commission’s recommendations when the final report is published in July, and it is right for us to wait for the outcome of the report before amending marriage law any further.

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