A member of the Church of Scientology has launched a High Court battle for the right to marry in the organisation’s chapel on Queen Victoria Street in central London.
Louisa Hodkin, 23, hopes to marry a fellow Scientologist on the site, but the Registrar General of Births, Deaths and Marriages in England and Wales has refused to certify the building as suitable for marriages, on the grounds that it is “not a place of meeting for religious worship”.
Legally recognised marriages may only be held in religious buildings which have been officially certified, under the Places of Worship Registration Act 1855.
Miss Hodkin is now challenging the refusal of the Registrar to issue the certificate. Her legal team claim she has been discriminated against on the basis of her religion.
A spokesman for the Registrar General said the chapel could not be certified because due to a 1970 case which it was ruled that Scientology was focused on man and not religious worship.
But Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC, appearing for appearing for Miss Hodkin and the Church of Scientology, said the organisation’s religious practices had evolved since that point.
Scientology, famous for such Hollywood adherents like Tom Cruise and John Travolta, was founded by L Ron Hubbard in 1953.