"Wedding rings after 25 years" by Johannes Munz / CC BY-SA 4.0

New coronavirus law provides for 15 at religious weddings, but only six at humanist

Sep 30, 2020

By Humanists UK

New coronavirus regulations coming into force in England today provide for religious and civil marriages to have up to 15 gathered in attendance, but make no such provision for humanist weddings. Instead it is specified that they ‘must be limited to 6 attendees’. This is in contrast to the previous regulations, which allowed 30 at all types of wedding. Since the problem came to light on Thursday, Humanists UK has been working with Government officials to fix the problem, but unfortunately to no avail. Today Humanists UK has expressed serious frustration at the ‘bewildering, sudden’ new discrepancy being introduced without consultation, and has called for the Government to change the provisions to make them equal for all.

However, the new regulations, which were made last week just hours after the new rules were announced, unexpectedly withdrew the ‘significant event gatherings’ provision, instead only allowing up to 15 at legally recognised marriages. That includes religious marriages, but as it doesn’t include humanist weddings, they consequently default to the general limit of six. The problems have arisen in large part because of the Government’s persistent failure over the last seven years (and in stark contrast to all other governments in the UK and in Ireland) to extend legal recognition to humanist weddings. Up to now, that failure has not led to further complications under the coronavirus regulations, because they provided for up to 30 not just for legally recognised marriages, but also for ‘significant event gatherings… to mark or celebrate a significant milestone in a person’s life, according to their religion or belief’. Humanists UK has enjoyed a good relationship working with relevant government officials on coronavirus regulations since March.

Humanists UK staff have been attempting to address the problems with government officials since the regulations were first made public on Thursday. But as of today, when the new law comes into force, no progress has been made in fixing them.

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