A Scientologist who lost a High Court bid to marry in the organisation’s London venue has been granted permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Louisa Hodkin had planned to marry fiancé Alessandro Calcioli in the Church of Scientology’s building on Queen Victoria Street. But the planned wedding could not go ahead because the Registrar General for Births Deaths and Marriages refused to recognise the venue as a place where legally valid religious marriages could take place, saying it was not “a place of meeting for religious worship”.
Hodkin and her team appealed the ruling, claiming it amounted to religious discrimination but the appeal, heard last December, was unsuccessful. In a similar case from 1970, R. v Registrar General ex parte Segerdal, judges ruled that another Church of Scientology building was not a valid venue for religious marriages because the organisation taught “the tenets of a philosophy concerned with man”.
Louisa Hodkin’s case will now be heard by the Supreme Court on July 18.
Paul Hewitt is a partner at law firm Withers LLP who are representing Louisa Hodkin and the Scientology London Congregation. He said:
“Mr Justice Ouseley’s judgment in the High Court indicated that he saw considerable merit in the case. While his decision was constrained by relatively old case law we were encouraged by the concluding words in his judgment that forty years on the Court “may find the route at least to reconsider its decision in Segerdal with the fuller material now available”. We hope that the Supreme Court reviews the facts in the context of the modern, multi-cultural world we live in, which recognises the right for everyone to be treated equally.”
Photo of the UK Supreme Court building by Rwendland via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons licence