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Irish model in legal battle over humanist wedding to international footballer

Laura Lacole
Laura Lacole

A model has cleared the first stage in a High Court battle to have her forthcoming humanist marriage to Irish international footballer Eunan O'Kane legally recognised.

Belfast woman Laura Lacole is due to wed Leeds United's O'Kane at a venue in Northern Ireland next month. She is challenging the General Register Office for refusing to officially authorise the ceremony due to be conducted by a British Humanist Association celebrant.

Her action is also directed at Stormont's Department of Finance's alleged failure to introduce legislation allowing the couple to have a legally recognised and binding wedding occasion.

Ms Lacole's lawyers claim that she is being discriminated against under European laws protecting freedom of belief.

Granting the model and public speaker leave to seek a judicial review at the High Court in Belfast yesterday, Mr Justice Colton said: "It seems to me this is an arguable case and an important matter of public interest has been raised."

Proceedings will now advance to a full hearing later this month.

Ms Lacole (27) and O'Kane (26) have both described themselves as humanists - a non-religious combination of attitudes and beliefs centred on human experience and welfare.

Humanist marriages are legally recognised here and in Scotland but not in Northern Ireland.