Scientology marriage bid rebuffed

Scientology marriage bid rebuffed

Louisa Hodkin was refused permission to marry a fellow Scientologist at the church's chapel in Queen Victoria Street, central London

Louisa Hodkin and fiancee Alessandro Calcioli lost their High Court fight for the right to marry in a Scientology chapel (Bell Pottinger/PA)

First published in National News © by

A member of the Church of Scientology has lost a High Court fight for the right to marry in a Scientology chapel.

Louisa Hodkin had challenged a refusal by the registrar general of births, deaths and marriages in England and Wales to register the chapel for the solemnisation of marriages on the grounds that it was not "a place of meeting for religious worship".

Ms Hodkin wants to marry a fellow Scientologist at the church's chapel on the ground floor of its premises in Queen Victoria Street, central London. Her lawyers argued she was the victim of unlawful religious discrimination. But Mr Justice Ouseley backed the registrar's decision and dismissed the challenge, following a High Court hearing in London.

Mr Justice Ouseley had been told, at a hearing in London in October, that, under Section 2 of the Places of Worship Registration Act 1855, the chapel had to be certified as a meeting place for religious worship to enable legally recognised religious marriages to take place.

Miss Hodkin and her fiance, both church volunteers, had challenged the legality of the registrar general's refusal to certify the London chapel for weddings in July last year.

The case is of general importance as Scientologists have previously unsuccessfully applied for certification at other premises in England they have claimed are for "religious worship".

Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC, appearing for Miss Hodkin and the Church of Scientology Religious Education College, said Miss Hodkin's brother, David, was married in a religious ceremony at a Church of Scientology in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 2007.

He said Miss Hodkin and her fiance wanted to similarly celebrate their marriage through a legally recognised Scientology wedding in London, surrounded by their families and fellow church volunteers. But a casework manager for the registrar general said such a wedding could not be recognised because of the 1970 case of "Segerdal" in the Court of Appeal.

Judges in that case ruled that another Scientology chapel was not a meeting place for religious worship because its services involved "instructions in the tenets of a philosophy concerned with man" and were not concerned with religious worship.

Mr Justice Ouseley said that he felt bound by that Court of Appeal ruling. But he said the issue should be analysed by the Supreme Court - the highest court in the UK.

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