The government’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill for England and Wales has officially been introduced in the House of Commons by Culture Secretary Maria Miller. A full debate by MPs and a vote on the proposals will take place on 5 February.
The Bill will allow religious organisations to perform legal same-sex marriages but representations from the British Humanist Association for the Bill to allow humanist celebrants to also conduct legal same-sex marriages have been ignored. This differs from the situation in Scotland, where the Scottish Government intends to allow humanist celebrants to perform legal same-sex marriages.
Andrew Copson Chief Executive of the BHA commented ‘We welcome this move towards equality for same sex couples, but the exclusion of humanist celebrants from this Bill is unfair. Our celebrants have been conducting same sex wedding ceremonies for many years, and although our colleagues in Scotland are to be given the right to conduct legal same sex marriages, in the rest of the UK we will continue to be denied that opportunity. We’re calling on the UK government to address this as the Bill moves through parliament. It is wrong for same sex religious couples to be given the chance to have a marriage in accordance with their own beliefs but not couples who want a humanist marriage to reflect their own beliefs which are just as deeply held.’
For further comment or information contact BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson on 07534 248596 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of ethically concerned, non-religious people in the UK. It is the largest organisation in the UK campaigning for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief, and for a secular state.