News: Scientologist begins legal battle for the right to marry in London chapel
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.
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Marilyn Stowe is the senior partner in Stowe Family Law, which has offices in Yorkshire, Cheshire and London. With more than 30 years’ experience handling divorce cases and family law proceedings she is regarded as one of the most formidable and sought after divorce lawyers in the UK. In 2012, Marilyn became one of the first solicitors to qualify as a family law arbitrator.
All persons mentioned in the scenarios are fictitious: details have been deliberately changed in order to protect identities and other confidential circumstances of my clients. All advice and information on this blog including posts written by guest authors, is given only as a general guide to the operation of the law on the date of publication. Readers must place no reliance whatsoever on the content of this blog and must always obtain their own legal advice. Marilyn Stowe, Stowe Family Law LLP and guest authors accept no liability whatsoever arising as a result of reliance upon its content.
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