Humanist wedding could take place in NI after ruling

A ruling which allows a humanist wedding to take place in Northern Ireland, effectively changing the law, is to be appealed by Attorney General John Larkin QC.

On Friday, a judge at the High Court in Belfast ruled that footballer Eunan O’Kane and model Laura Lacole could hold a legally valid humanist ceremony in the province later this month.

Mr Larkin immediately announced that he would be appealing the decision, leading to the wedding being put on hold.

Intervention

Isobel Russo, Head of Ceremonies at the British Humanist Association, had been asked to conduct the ceremony.

Lacole, who is also vice-chairman of a group called Atheist NI, argued that she was being discriminated against under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Under current Northern Ireland law, a couple who wants a humanist ceremony must also have a separate civil registration for their marriage to be officially recognised.

The law

This also applies in England, but not in Scotland or in the Republic of Ireland, which have passed laws to recognise humanist weddings.

Since Holyrood changed the law in 2005, 25,000 humanist ceremonies have taken place in Scotland.

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