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Jersey ahead of England on humanist weddings

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JERSEY has moved ahead of England and Wales after Royal Assent was given to a new law passed by the States to recognise humanist weddings.

Deputy Louise Doublet

However, the first humanist ceremonies in the Island are still a few months away from taking place, with celebrants [officials who perform the rites] still needing to complete an accreditation process.

But humanist societies in Jersey and the UK have welcomed the news that the law has now come into force, with similar legislation passed in Scotland and Northern Ireland in recent years. England and Wales still do not have laws for humanist weddings.

Humanists, whose wedding ceremonies are non-religious, believe that science is the only reliable source of knowledge and hold ethics emphasising the value of human beings.

The new marriage law, which also introduced same-sex marriage, has set up a process through which celebrants can register to perform legal humanist ceremonies.

The States are expected to schedule training sessions within the next few months.

Deputy Louise Doublet, who sits on the Committee of Channel Islands Humanists and lodged the proposals for humanist weddings, said that the Island’s recognition of humanist marriages could attract more visitors to Jersey.

‘Jersey is leading the way by recognising humanist marriages and, as well as providing another option for non-religious Islanders, I’m hopeful that we will see benefits in terms of UK residents travelling to our beautiful Island for their big day,’ she said.

Humanists UK’s chief executive Andrew Copson also welcomed the news.

‘Coming in the same week as the Court of Appeal gave legal recognition to humanist marriages in Northern Ireland, and new stats showed Humanist Society Scotland performing more marriages last year, for the first time, than the Church of Scotland, this week truly has been a momentous week for humanist marriages across these isles,’ he said. ‘But England and Wales continue to lag behind. Surely it is past time the UK government wakes up to the need for recognition there too.’

Ian Heath

By Ian Heath
author

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