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Scientologist loses court bid to marry in London venue

A young member of the Church of Scientology has lost her High Court bid to be allowed to marry in the organisation’s London venue.

Louisa Hodkin, 23, had wanted to marry fiancé Alessandro Calcioli at the church’s City of London centre on Queen  Victoria Street. But the Registrar General for Births Deaths and Marriages had refused to recognise the venue as a place where legally valid religious marriages could take place as it was not “a place of meeting for religious worship”.

Hodkin challenged this claim, saying the refusal amounted to religious discrimination. Her legal team included Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC, who said Hodkin’s brother David had been married in a Scientology ceremony in Edinburgh in 2007 and she now wanted to do the same.

A representative of the registrar cited a 1970 precedent in which judges had ruled that another Church of Scientology venue was not a place of religious worship because it taught “the tenets of a philosophy concerned with man”. Only venues which are recognised places of religious worship can host legally valid religious marriages.

At a hearing in London earlier this week, Mr Justice Ouseley backed the Registrar General’s decision and dismissed Hodkin’s challenge.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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