We’re delighted to be recognised for ceremonies provision

February 14, 2017

A new provision approved by the Scottish Parliament today will see Humanist Society Scotland officially recognised as the first non-religious organisation to be ‘prescribed’ under the 1977 Marriage Act.

Humanist Society Scotland (HSS) was responsible for securing a change in 2005 to allow Scotland to become the first part of the UK to allow legal Humanist wedding ceremonies.

Since 2005, the popularity of Humanist weddings has soared with more than 4,200 ceremonies taking place in 2015.

Staff and Celebrants of the Humanist Society Scotland have produced a video to celebrate the new recognition of Humanist ceremonies in Scotland.

HSS Head of Ceremonies, Lynsey Kidd
HSS Head of Ceremonies, Lynsey Kidd

Commenting on the news, Lynsey Kidd, HSS Head of Ceremonies and Chaplaincy, commented:

We are delighted to be recognised for our years of dedicated hard work representing the Humanist community here in Scotland.

Our HSS Registered Celebrants are trained to a high professional standard, and undertake regular development to ensure that they can deliver a first class service.

This new status reflects the Scottish Government’s confidence in Humanist Society Scotland to authorise their own Celebrants and provides our members choosing an HSS Registered Celebrant even more assurance that with us they are in safe hands.

Such a significant change to the marriage landscape in Scotland means that Humanist Society Scotland is given recognition as Scotland’s national Humanist Charity.

Lynsey Kidd, Humanist Society Scotland
Gordon MacRae, HSS Chief Executive
Gordon MacRae, HSS Chief Executive

Gordon MacRae, HSS Chief Executive, also added:

Last year saw a tipping point for Humanism in Scotland, with the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey showing that non-religious people in Scotland are the majority, continued growth in demand for meaningful Humanist ceremonies, and real progress in our campaign for inclusive secular education.

Gordon MacRae, Humanist Society Scotland


For further comment or information contact Gary McLelland on gary@humanism.scot or 07813060713.

  1. Link to lip-sync video: https://www.dropbox.com/s/3t6ukfw4riaymjv/Lip%20Sync.mp4?dl=0
  2. A link to photos of Humanist ceremonies available for use: https://goo.gl/yTFk8p
  3. Humanist Society Scotland is the national charity for humanists, atheists, freethinkers and agnostics who seek to live an ethical, rational fulfilling life. We have over 14,000 members and our celebrants conducted more than 3,500 weddings last year.
  4. Research from the British Humanist Association shows that 58% of people in Scotland have attended a Humanist ceremony, and over 90% being aware of them.
  5. Humanist Society Scotland is different from other commercial providers of wedding services, given its status as a campaigning charity, and a member of the European and Global umbrella bodies for Humanist Organisations.
  6. The new regulation has been made using a Scottish Statutory Instrument (SSI) under section 8(1)(a)(ii) and (1B)(a)(i) of the Marriage (Scotland) Act 1977(1) and section 94A(1)(a)(i) of the Civil Partnership Act 2004(2) (Amendment of the Civil Partnership (Prescribed Bodies) (Scotland) Regulations 2016). Available online at: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2016/427/contents/made
  7. HSS has been conducting legal Humanist weddings in Scotland since 2005, when the Registrar General for Scotland approved an administrative decision to allow it.
  8. There are three main ways that a religious or belief group can authorise someone to conduct a wedding in Scotland: 1. Temporary authorisation from the Office of the Registrar General (on a one-off basis, or for a period of up-to three months), 2. A nominating body (which can see celebrants authorised for up-to three years at a time), and 3. A prescribed body (which is an organisation with delegated authority from the Registrar General to appoint celebrants on an ongoing basis).
  9. HSS will be the first body to be added to the list of prescribed bodies since 1977, and the first ever non-religious organisation. The other organisations prescribed since 1977 are: The Baptist Union of Scotland; The Congregational Union of Scotland; The Episcopal Church (etc.); The Free Church of Scotland; The Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland; The Hebrew Congregation; The Methodist Church in Scotland; The Religious Society of Friends; The Roman Catholic Church; The Salvation Army; The Scottish Unitarian Association, and The United Free Church of Scotland. (Ministers of the Church of Scotland are entitled to conduct weddings without being a prescribed body).

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