NI: Couple seek judicial review over recognition of humanist marriages

Ciarán Moynagh and Laura Lacole

A humanist couple backed by the British Humanist Association (BHA) have won permission for a judicial review of Northern Ireland authorities for failing to extend legal recognition to humanist marriages.

Model Laura Lacole and footballer Eunan O’Kane are seeking to challenge laws by which couples wishing to have a humanist ceremony must also have a separate civil registration for their marriage to be legally recognised.

A full hearing in the case is now scheduled for 26 May.

Speaking outside court, Belfast solicitor advocate Ciarán Moynagh of McLernon Moynagh Solicitors said: “I am delighted that Laura and Eunan are one step closer to achieving the wedding ceremony they wish for and that it is in accordance with their humanist beliefs.

“It is important that the state provide equal treatment to all and hold my client’s beliefs with the due regard they deserve and akin to any religious belief another couple may hold.”

Humanist marriages have been legally recognised in Scotland since 2005 and in the Republic of Ireland since 2012.

Ms Lacole, a member of BHA’s Northern Ireland Humanists section, said: “Marriage, for all couples, is a celebration of who that couple are, reflecting their deepest held beliefs and values. My wishes for my marriage are for it to reflect my deepest humanist values, much as a Christian might see their marriage as of special significance for them.

“People of all religions can be legally married in public ceremonies in accordance with their beliefs and by a celebrant who holds the same beliefs and values. My fiancé and I are only asking for the same rights as religious people already have.”

BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson added: “Humanist weddings are incredibly popular right across the UK and Ireland, and this is especially true where they are given legal recognition.

“UK laws should treat everyone equally, regardless of religion or belief, and so given the recognition given to religious marriages, it is past time that the same recognition is extended to humanist ones.”

Share icon
Share this article: