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Humanist marriage law passes in Guernsey

A new Law in Guernsey that will give legal recognition to humanist marriages has received Royal Sanction, meaning that it has completed its legislative passage and is now certain to come into force. The Marriage (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law 2020 is due to come into effect on 1 March, and is expected to do so across Guernsey, Alderney, and Sark. Channel Islands Humanists, which helped shape the legislation, has expressed delight at the news.

A humanist wedding is a non-religious ceremony conducted by a humanist celebrant who shares the beliefs and values of the couple. It differs from a civil wedding in that it is entirely personalised and reflective of the humanist beliefs and values of the couple.

The Law was passed following a public consultation that found 94% of respondents supporting legal recognition of humanist marriages. Channel Islands Humanists responded to the consultation and has been actively engaged with officials during the process. The Law follows on from Jersey giving legal recognition in 2019, Northern Ireland in 2018, Ireland in 2012, and Scotland in 2005. Last year there were more humanist than Christian marriages in Scotland, while around 9% of marriages in Ireland were humanist. That only leaves England, Wales, and the Isle of Man yet to extend legal recognition.

Guernsey-based celebrant Gary Vaudin, who is also a committee member of Channel Islands Humanists, commented: ‘We’re delighted that humanist marriages are set to gain legal recognition in Guernsey. The States consultation on the matter showed overwhelming public support for this change, which means that non-religious people will finally have a form of marriage that can reflect their own beliefs and values.

‘We look forward to working with officials until this law comes into force on 1 March.’

Notes:

For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at press@humanists.uk or phone 020 7324 3072 or 07534 248 596.

Read the States of Guernsey announcement of the new Law.

Read more about our campaigns work on humanist marriages.

Channel Islands Humanists is a part of Humanists UK. Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

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