Leeds United footballer and model’s humanist wedding ruling to be appealed

Model Laura Lacole and Leeds United's Eunan O'Kane outside the High Court in Belfast. PIC: PA
Model Laura Lacole and Leeds United's Eunan O'Kane outside the High Court in Belfast. PIC: PA
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A court ruling granting a Leeds United footballer and his model fiancee legal recognition of their looming humanist wedding is set to be appealed.

Laura Lacole and Whites midfielder Eunan O’Kane mounted a successful challenge against the authorities in Northern Ireland for refusing to recognise their June 22 ceremony in law.

But Friday’s decision in Belfast High Court is now to be appealed by Northern Ireland’s Attorney General John Larkin QC.

Ms Lacole and Mr O’Kane launched the legal bid after learning their planned humanist wedding in Ballymena’s luxury Galgorm Resort would not be recognised in law. For such recognition, they were told, they would need to have a separate civil ceremony.

The couple took the case against the General Register Office for Northern Ireland and Stormont’s Department of Finance.

Mr Larkin also participated in the hearing because it touched on devolved Stormont legislation.

On Friday, Judge Mr Justice Colton quashed the GRO’s refusal to grant legal recognition, finding such a position breached the couple’s rights under the European Convention.

Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of Humanists UK, which is supporting the couple’s case, said his was disappointed by the appeal.

“This is a very disappointing development given the comprehensive nature of the judgment and is deeply upsetting for both Laura and Eunan, who were so happy to have had certainty in relation to their wedding later this month,” he said.

Humanism is a non-religious belief system that rejects the concepts of a higher deity or afterlife.

Humanists adhere to a scientific view of the world and believe humans steer their own destiny.

Humanist marriages are already legally recognised in Scotland, but not in England and Wales. They are also recognised in the Republic of Ireland.