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Dublin: 15 °C Monday 3 August, 2020

Republic of Ireland player and model take battle for humanist wedding to the High Court

Laura Lacole’s lawyers claim that she is being discriminated against under European laws protecting freedom of belief.

A HUMANIST COUPLE is seeking a judicial review of the failure of the Northern Irish authorities to extend legal recognition to humanist marriages.

As it stands, a couple that want a humanist ceremony must also have a separate civil registration for their marriage to be legally recognised.

The British Humanist Association says this means that the ceremony that actually matters to the couple has no status in law.

Model Laura Lacole and Eunan O’Kane, who plays football for Leeds United and the Republic of Ireland national team, are hoping to change this.

Humanist marriages are currently legally recognised in Scotland and the Republic of Ireland.

In Ireland, legal recognition was extended in 2012, and in 2015 humanist marriages became the third most popular type, behind only civil and Catholic.

In Scotland, recognition was extended in 2005, and in 2015 for the first time there were more humanist marriages than Church of Scotland marriages.

Lacole’s lawyers claim that she is being discriminated against under European laws protecting freedom of belief.

Lacole 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.”

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

Read: The average age for Irish brides and grooms is getting older and older>

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