Legal standing for Humanist Celebrants set at Holyrood

THE MOVEMENT TOWARDS non-religious wedding and funeral ceremonies is taking a major step with a new provision being approved by the Scottish Parliament today.

The provision will see the Humanist Society Scotland (HSS) being officially recognised as the first non-religious organisation to be ‘prescribed’ under the 1977 Marriage Act.

Moray has three HSS Celebrants – insideMoray ‘partner’ Neil Lynch, George Caldow and Janet Donnelly.

The popularity of Humanist weddings has soared since 2005 with over 4200 taking place ten years after they were first established.

Welcoming the move in the Parliament is Lynsey Kidd is the HSS Head of Ceremonies and Chaplaincy, who said: “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.”

Neil Lynch

Originally from Edinburgh, Neil Lynch has lived in Elgin for 35 years after enjoying a long and varied career in with the Police in London, Edinburgh and Moray – as well as a spell in International Policing in the Middle East.

He attended training organised by the HSS in Inverness and became fully registered to carry out weddings, funerals and naming ceremonies – with his services already much sought after in Moray.

He said: “I’ve been very impressed with the thoroughness of the training at HSS which is reflected in the skill and dedication of their registered celebrants. The thing that appeals to me most about humanist ceremonies – weddings, funerals and naming ceremonies – is the full emphasis of the ceremony is on the life that was lived and the individual(s).”

Gordon MacRae, HSS Chief Executive, 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.”

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).

It is available online at: