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Humanist marriage campaigners appointed patrons of Humanists UK

Humanists UK, the national charity working towards a tolerant world where rational thinking and kindness prevail, has appointed three new patrons in the form of humanist marriage campaigners and public figures Laura Lacole, Eunan O’Kane, and Louise Doublet. 

Model and public speaker Laura Lacole and professional footballer Eunan O’Kane were appointed as patrons of Humanists UK and Northern Ireland Humanists in acknowledgement of their long-running legal case to secure humanist marriage rights in Northern Ireland. As a result of their legal case, Humanists UK celebrants in Northern Ireland now routinely conduct legal marriages, with the first of these taking place last weekend

Louise Doublet, an Assembly representative of St. Saviour No. 2 in Jersey, was appointed a patron of Humanists UK and Channel Islands Humanists for her role in securing legal humanist marriages on the island of Jersey earlier this year. Jersey officials are currently in the process of rolling out authorisation measures for humanist celebrants.

Laura Lacole and Eunan O’Kane

Laura and Eunan were the first couple to have a legal humanist marriage in Northern Ireland, and fought for the same right for other couples

Model and activist Laura Lacole and professional footballer Eunan O’Kane became the first couple in Northern Island to have a legally recognised humanist marriage in the summer of 2017. The legal marriage was a result of a successful campaign and legal battle led by the couple and Humanists UK. Following Laura and Eunan’s wedding, a Court of Appeal hearing brought by the Northern Ireland Attorney General stayed wider legalisation until a judge ruled again in June 2018 that humanist celebrants should be authorised to conduct legal marriages. The first marriages to follow the ruling took place on 25 and 26 August.

Laura is a model, media personality, and humanist campaigner. Aside from her work on humanist marriage and her noteworthy advocacy of humanism and rationalism, Laura regularly speaks out on topics such as freedom of expression, the promotion of science, and women’s rights. She has also appeared as a guest on topical programmes such This Week, Jeremy Vine, Newsnight, as well as on Sky News, BBC News, and many other outlets. 

Eunan is a professional footballer who currently plays in midfield for Leeds United where he’s made a total of 56 appearances across two seasons and has become a firm favourite with the fans due to his technical ability, performances on the pitch, and engagements off it. His previous club career has seen him also play for Torquay United and Bournemouth, making 16 Premier League appearances for the latter. Eunan made his international debut for the Republic of Ireland in March 2016 and has won a total of seven caps for his country.

Louise Doublet

States of Jersey Deputy Louise Doublet spearheaded the campaign for recognition of humanist marriages in Jersey

Louise Doublet was first elected to the States of Jersey Assembly as Deputy of St. Saviour No. 2 in November 2014 and led a successful four-year campaign alongside Humanists UK to legalise humanist marriage in Jersey. In February 2018 legislation proposed by Louise giving legal recognition to weddings performed by humanists celebrants was officially passed. At the same time, same-sex marriage was also granted legal recognition in Jersey thanks to persistent campaigning by Louise. The new law awaits its full implementation after receiving royal assent on 1 July.  

Louise is also a member of the steering committee for the new Channel Islands Humanists section of Humanists UK, which launched in St Helier at the beginning of April. At the launch event, Louise outlined her hope for humanists to help shape policy across the Channel Islands and make Humanists UK services like humanist ceremonies and non-religious pastoral support more readily available to islanders.

Humanist weddings are bespoke, non-religious ceremonies that celebrate the deepest-held beliefs of the couple, scripted and performed by a highly-trained accredited humanist celebrant. Humanists UK is also campaigning for them to be legally recognised in England and Wales and Guernsey, the latter of which recently consulted on this issue.

Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson said,

‘It gives me enormous pleasure to be able to announce Laura, Louise, and Eunan as the three newest patrons of Humanists UK. They have all done inspiring work to advance equality for the non-religious around these isles and to advance free thinking and freedom of choice for everyone.’

Notes

For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson on richy@humanism.org.uk.

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

Humanists UK has over 170 patrons who support its work in various ways through their expertise and prominence in various fields. Existing patrons include significant figures from the spheres of science, philosophy, human rights activism, politics, the arts, and broadcasting. Alongside its patrons, Humanists UK has a President and a number of Vice Presidents. From January 2016, its President has been writer and comedian Shappi Khorsandi, supported by Vice Presidents Professor Jim Al-Khalili, Polly Toynbee, and Professor A C Grayling.

Humanists UK organises in Northern Ireland as Northern Ireland Humanists and in the Channel Islands as Channel Islands Humanists.

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