A ST HELENS couple are going to the High Court to fight for humanist marriages in England and Wales to be recognised.

Their case is being supported by Humanists UK, which has campaigned for legal recognition of humanist marriage for many decades.

Lucy Penny and Dan Bradley have had both a humanist wedding ceremony and civil marriage ceremony since the start of legal proceedings.

They didn’t want to have the civil marriage ceremony but felt they had no choice to gain legal recognition.

They will complain about the discrimination they experienced because of this from Sunday, July 7 and Monday July 8 at the High Court.

Lucy is a secondary school teacher and Dan works for a University.

Lucy and Dan are amongst six couples taking the legal challenge.

They are taking the case to try to compel the UK Government to change the law to recognise humanist weddings as legally recognised marriages, as is the case for humanist weddings in Scotland and Northern Ireland and for religious weddings across the UK.

Their lawyers will argue that the current law discriminates against them because of their humanist beliefs and is therefore incompatible with human rights legislation, which precludes such discrimination.

Parliament gave the Government the power to give legal recognition to humanist marriages in 2013 but no Government has used it.

In the time since then, more than 6,000 couples have been denied legal recognition for their humanist wedding, either having to go to a state registrar for an unwanted second ceremony in order to gain legal recognition, or not be legally married.

Lucy Penny and Dan Bradley said: "Since the start of proceedings in this case, we’ve already had a humanist wedding ceremony as well as a civil marriage because we were unable to secure legal recognition for humanist marriages before our wedding date.

"However, we are now taking part in the case in the hope we can change the law for other couples in the future.

"We see our humanist ceremony as our real ceremony, as did our family and friends, and it’s our humanist wedding that reflected our values and beliefs.

"It’s a shame the Government doesn’t recognise that as our real ceremony, when they would have done if we were religious."

Humanists UK Chief Executive Andrew Copson added: "Couples who have humanist weddings see that day as the epitome of their love and commitment to each other, and all they want is the same legal recognition for that as is given to every religious person in our country.

"We have tried for decades to address this glaring double standard. Government has dragged its heels and that’s why it’s been left to these couples to bring this case.

"As more and more non-religious couples choose to have humanist weddings, we need a law that works for all people who want to marry and we hope this case will lead to reform."

Ciaran Moynagh, solicitor at law firm Phoenix Law, said: "The time for asking to be accommodated is over. The Courts are now the only appropriate and realistic method of moving this issue on.

"Following a successful case in Northern Ireland momentum is on our side and I believe couples who look forward to a legally recognised humanist ceremony should take great heart and hope from that."

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.