UK Supreme Court recognises Scientology as religion

(PA)
Louisa Hodkin and her fiancé Alessandro Calcioli outside the Supreme Court in London, after winning their legal challenge to marry in a Church of Scientology chapel.

The Supreme Court has ruled that a couple can marry in a Church of Scientology chapel because the legal definion of religious worship as "reverence or veneration of God or a supreme being" is out of date.

The decision relates to the case of Louisa Hodkin, who launched legal action after the registrar general of births, deaths and marriages refused to register a central London chapel as a place for the solemnisation of marriages on the grounds that it was not a place of worship.

At a High Court hearing in December last year, Judge Mr Justice Ouseley upheld a ruling from 1970 which determined that Scientology services were not "acts of worship".

However, Judge Ouseley said the case should be referred to the Supreme Court.

It was decided unanimously by five judges today that the Scientology chapel in central London is a "place of meeting for religious worship".

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Giving the judgement, Lord Toulson wrote: "Religion should not be confined to religions which recognise a supreme deity.

"To do so would be a form of religious discrimination unacceptable in today's society."

Hodkin plans to marry her fiancé Alessandro Calcioli in the Scientology chapel.

Mr Calcioli was quoted by the BBC as saying: "I think the court's definition of religion is excellent. I think it's what most people today would understand 'religion' to be. I'm ecstatic."

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