Atheists Are Heading to Court to Legalize Humanist Weddings in England and Wales July 4, 2020

Atheists Are Heading to Court to Legalize Humanist Weddings in England and Wales

Last week, we learned that Humanist weddings — officiated by non-pastors yet carrying all the appropriate legal weight — are more popular than Christian ones in Scotland, where they’ve been legal since 2005. If that option is on the table, plenty of people would rather be married by a non-religious person than a priest whose values they don’t share.

In Ireland, Humanist weddings became legal in 2012. After a lawsuit, they became legal in Northern Ireland in 2018.

However, England and Wales do not. On Tuesday and Wednesday, however, six couples are heading to the High Court in the UK to change all that.

According to Humanists UK:

Their lawyers will argue that the current law discriminates against them because of their humanist beliefs and is therefore incompatible with human rights legislation, which precludes such discrimination.

Parliament gave the Government the power to give legal recognition to humanist marriages in 2013 but no Government has used it. In the time since then, over 6,000 couples have been denied legal recognition for their humanist wedding, either having to go to a state registrar for an unwanted second ceremony in order to gain legal recognition, or not be legally married.

The group says over 1,000 couples have had ceremonial Humanist weddings — which didn’t “count” until a judge signed off on it — even though religious couples didn’t have to jump over that additional hurdle. For something this popular and this inconsequential to everyone else, it’s absurd that the government refuses to make the simple change to allow trained Humanists to do what priests and other religious leaders already can.

If you get a chance, check out Humanist UK’s page about this case and notice how many politicians are on their side here — and from different parties. This isn’t a partisan issue. It’s just common sense. Yet it’s taking a legal battle because some stubborn traditionalists refuse to budge.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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