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Couples may have marriages solemnised virtually soon

This article is more than 12 months old

Bill enabling remote solemnisation for civil and Muslim marriages to be introduced on May 4

Couples may have their marriages solemnised virtually from next month amid the coronavirus outbreak, if an upcoming Bill is passed by Parliament.

Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee wrote on Facebook that a Bill will be introduced at the next Parliament sitting on May 4 to enable civil and Muslim marriages to be solemnised remotely.

Couples would not need to be present at the Registry of Marriages or the Registry of Muslim Marriages, nor be in the physical presence of a marriage solemniser and witnesses.

Marriage solemnisations have had to be postponed while circuit breaking measures were in force.

Mr Lee wrote: "Even during a crisis, we should try to enable important life events such as marriages to go on.

"We should not let Covid-19 hold back those who are ready to start a new life together."

If the Bill is passed, couples who can present Singapore-issued documents for verification may have their marriages solemnised virtually.

The couples, their witnesses and in the case of Muslim marriages, the wali, must physically be in Singapore to sign their statutory declarations.

During the solemnisation of the marriage, the couple, solemniser and witnesses must all be physically in Singapore as well.

Mr Lee said that virtual solemnisations can start from mid-May, if the law is enacted.

He added that the option may extend even beyond the circuit breaker period.

"We will also resume solemnisations that are conducted in person, when it is safe to do so," he said.

Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli wrote on Facebook that for Muslim marriages, the Office of the Mufti has issued religious guidance, or an irsyad, that virtual solemnisations are permissible under Islam, as long as the conditions for a nikah, or solemnisation ceremony, can be fulfilled.

DECISIVE STEPS

He said: "I am heartened to see our asatizah taking decisive steps to seek practical solutions to meet pressing community needs in this current challenging climate."

Dr Nicholas Chan, 27, said he and his fiancee, whose early June wedding has been postponed, will not opt for a virtual solemnisation if it becomes available.

He said: "We have already had an idea of how we would like our special day to be, and a virtual solemnisation wouldn't feel romantic enough.

"If we had more practical concerns, such as housing, then this virtual solemnisation would be something that we might consider."

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