Ireland Legalizes Weddings Performed by Humanists

In Ireland, if a Humanist Celebrant performed a wedding, it was only symbolic. You still had to have a civil ceremony for the wedding to be legally-binding.

Not anymore, though.

The Humanist Association of Ireland recently announced that a bill has passed both the Dáil and the Seanad that would expand the number of people who can solemnize weddings. All that’s left is for the President to sign it:

This is a major victory for the Humanist Association of Ireland which has been campaigning for this change for the past decade.

Humanist wedding ceremonies have grown in popularity in recent years but, in order to have a legally binding marriage, couples have had to have a civil ceremony in addition to their Humanist ceremony. This change in legislation will give legal status to Humanist ceremonies and so provide real choice for couples getting married.

In early January the HAI will apply to the Registrar for registration under this new legislation and the HAI-accredited celebrants will have their names added to the General Register Office list of solemnisers.

The text of the bill itself explains why this action needed to be taken:

It is clear that many citizens wish to celebrate their commitment to each other through a non-religious marriage ceremony. Of the 19,828 marriages held in 2011, almost 6,000 were civil ceremonies. This represents 29% of all marriages performed in 2011 and compares to a figure of 6% of marriages in 1996. The Bill will allow valid marriages to be performed by bodies that fulfil the criteria of a secular body as laid down in the Bill, reflecting the varied belief systems in a modern society which still holds marriage as a valuable life choice. In this regard, the Bill extends the definition of the term “body” in relation to marriages to include a “secular body”. It sets out criteria which must be met by a body before it can apply to have marriages solemnised by one of its members.

Ireland: 1. Indiana: 0.

(via Humanisticus)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X