Louisa Hodkin, 23, was at the High Court flanked by her fiance as her QC, Lord Lester, attacked the refusal of the Registrar General of Births, Deaths and Marriages to allow the church’s chapel in Queen Victoria Street, London, to be used for marriage ceremonies.
The registrar had declined to recognise the chapel as a “place of worship” – the necessary step before marriages can be solemnised – compelling Ms Hodkin to look elsewhere for her wedding venue.
Ms Hodkin is engaged to a fellow scientologist. Lord Lester said her own brother had been allowed to marry at a Church of Scientology chapel in Edinburgh five years ago, a right which was permitted under Scottish law but denied south of the border.
“She and her fiancee both volunteer at the Church of Scientology and seek to celebrate their marriage through a legally recognised scientology wedding, surrounded by their friends, families and fellow volunteers,” he added.
Church of Scientology marriages are recognised in a range of different countries, including New Zealand, Canada, the United States and Australia, and church members claim the registrar’s refusal is discriminatory and in breach of the 2010 Equality Act.
If the case is successful it would be a victory for the organisation, once described by a British judge as a ‘cult’, as it seeks political recognition.