Law Commission Publish Marriage Scoping Review

The Law Commission have today published their scoping review of marriage law in England and Wales which examines whether the current framework is fair and coherent for enabling people to marry. It has concluded that existing marriage law is unnecessarily restrictive and outdated and calls for total reform.

The scoping review was commissioned in 2014 by then-minister Simon Hughes. It followed a lengthy consultation process on humanist marriage specifically, which found overwhelming support for giving legal recognition to humanist ceremonies from 95% of respondents. This was in response to an amendment to the Marriage Act 2014 with majority support in both Houses for giving legal recognition to humanist marriages. An order making power was included in the Act which allows the Secretary of State to legalise humanist marriage by regulations.

Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association commented, ‘What we have called for in the past and continue to call for now is a modest extension to the law to allow humanist marriage in England and Wales as it is allowed in Scotland. Wholesale reform of marriage law seems to us both unnecessary and a waste of public money. Humanist couples simply want to have the same opportunity to enjoy a meaningful marriage ceremony which reflects their beliefs and values in the way their religious friends and neighbours already can.

'Responding to today’s report, we have called on the Lord Chancellor to act now to use the powers given to him by the Marriage Act to introduce legal humanist marriages in England and Wales. Thousands of couples were devastated last year when the Government chose not to legalise humanist marriages – but by acting now, he can set that right.’


For further comment or information contact BHA Director of Public Affairs and Policy Pavan Dhaliwal on or 0776 843 5059 or Chief Executive Andrew Copson on or 07534 248596

Law Commission ‘scoping exercise’ into legal humanist marriages due to report in December

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.