Traditional Christian wedding ceremonies should lose their legal status, Justice Minister Simon Hughes has suggested.
Under the proposals, couples wishing to marry in a religious ceremony would have to attend a separate secular ceremony beforehand for the marriage to be legally valid.
The Liberal Democrat MP told the party’s spring conference:
“We should do what the Belgians do and the French do. It can be done even in the same building, on the same day, but you would have a ceremony by which the state recognises the marriage, the wedding, and then the faith community has the ceremony which gives that the authority”.
He hoped, the Telegraph reports, that the idea would not “trespass on people’s faith beliefs.”
Current marriage laws were in a “terrible muddle”, he claimed, following a recent ruling by the Supreme Court in which the Church of Scientology won the right to hold wedding ceremonies in its own venues.
The legal definition of religion should not, said the ruling, “be confined to religions which recognise a supreme deity. First and foremost, to do so would be a form of religious discrimination unacceptable in today’s society.”
The Law Commission now plans to review marriage law.