New stats reveal: only legalising humanist marriages will give same-sex couples a meaningful choice of type of marriage ceremony
The Office of National Statistics has published new statistics on the number of marriages, both same- and opposite-sex, which occurred in England and Wales in 2014, the first year that same-sex marriages were legally recognised. The statistics have revealed that just 23 couples out of the 4,850 who had same-sex marriages, or just 0.47%, opted to have religious same-sex marriages. The British Humanist Association (BHA), which performs a very high number of same-sex wedding ceremonies and has been doing so for over five decades, has responded by saying that the Government should recognise that only by extending legal recognition to humanist ceremonies will same-sex couples be offered a meaningful choice of type of marriage.
Humanist wedding ceremonies were legally recognised in Scotland in 2005, where they have since surged in popularity since, overtaking Church of Scotland ceremonies in 2015 to become the most popular type of belief-based ceremony. 14.4% of legal marriage ceremonies in Scotland are now humanist, compared to 13.7% being done by the Church of Scotland.
In England and Wales humanist ceremonies have also surged in number in recent years, but they are not legally recognised so lag behind Scotland in terms of popularity. Couples wishing to have a humanist ceremony must presently also visit the register office, at the expense of additional time and cost. This is in spite of the fact that polling shows humanist ceremonies are hugely popular with the general public.