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Conference Votes for Humanist Marriage

October 1, 2019 2:12 PM
By Kay Kirkham

We chalked up another two wins in Bournemouth, at Autumn Conference 2019, as both of our proposals became party policy.


On Saturday, 14th September, Conference voted overwhelmingly for humanist marriage ceremonies in England and Wales to be legally recognised at the earliest opportunity.

Our amendment to the Equal Marriage policy motion

  • noted that "humanist marriages are not legally recognised in England and Wales, but have been recognised in Scotland since 2005, and have already become the second most popular type of marriage there, and recognised in Northern Ireland since 2018;"
  • reaffirmed the Liberal Democrat commitment to "extend legal recognition of humanist marriages across the UK;"
  • called for "the UK Government to make an order under section 14(4) of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 at the earliest opportunity, to allow humanists to conduct legally recognised marriages in England and Wales."

The amendment was drafted by HSLD Co-President Dr Julian Huppert, submitted by HSLD and South Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats, and proposed by Toby Keynes. Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett also supported the amendment during the debate.

Our thanks to the 60 HSLD members and supporters who put their names to this amendment, and to all those who spoke and voted for the amendment and for the Equal Marriage policy motion.

Another amendment, from ALDC Chief Executive, Tim Pickstone, called for an end to the law that requires the Church of England and the Church in Wales to get permission from parliament before they can introduce same-sex marriage ceremonies. This too was overwhelmingly carried.

You can read the full Equal Marriage motion, as amended, here: https://www.libdems.org.uk/f9-equal-marriage.

You can watch the Equal Marriage debate at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVLzhdE6la8, starting at 2:34:11.

Toby Keynes's speech proposing our amendment is at 2:44; Adrian Trett's speech is at 2:56.


On Monday 16th September, Conference voted to adopt the United on Crime policy motion, complete with our amendment on Inclusive Community Organisations.

The United Against Crime policy paper proposed that the party should support "community groups composed of representatives of local charities, faith groups, public sector organisations and businesses…" (page 41, para. 5.4.7). The paper's wording gave faith groups a guaranteed position in the proposed bodies, but excluded any non-religious voluntary or community organisations or belief groups.

Our amendment gave flexibility so that the proposed bodies could be inclusive and could more broadly reflect the local communities (including, for example, LGBT+ groups) and their needs.

The motion, as amended, called for the introduction of effective measures to cut crime and ensure people feel safe by "Extending Community Safety Funds to invest in communities and supporting the establishment of community groups to bring together representatives of local charities, faith and belief groups, voluntary and community organisations, public sector organisations and businesses that would work with police and local authorities, to ensure that people can lead their own lives free from fear."

The amendment was drafted by Toby Keynes. Our thanks to the 55 HSLD members and supporters who put their names to this amendment.

You can watch the United Against Crime debate, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cTYMSlsUUs, starting at 39:00. There's an excellent speech in support of our amendment, from Cllr Fran Oborski, Deputy Council Leader of Wyre Forest, at 1.40.