Judgment: sex education is compulsory for all - even for Baptists
STRASBOURG. The European Court of Human Rights has confirmed the German compulsory education at a crucial point: Even the sexual education is compulsory and is not contrary to the parents' right to education and freedom of religion, judged the judges in Strasbourg.
They rejected the lawsuit filed by five German Baptist families from North Rhine-Westphalia, who had their children out of school temporarily held away and were therefore fined. The decision is final.
The quarrel already began in June 2005. Back then, two of the affected couples asked to have their children, who at that time were in the fourth grade of a primary school in Salzkotten, freed from "Sachkundeunterricht" (not sex ed, but a class that teaches everything). According to the curriculum, sex education was on the program. The parents complained in particular the content of a book that was used for teaching, as partially pornographic. The representation precludes their religious beliefs, according to which sexuality could only take place within marriage. The two sets of parents belong to, as well as the other applicants, an evangelical Baptist church.
The school refused to release the children from school, citing the existing compulsory education and the applicable curriculum. The parents then kept their children away from school for a week
, whereupon all four parents were sentenced by a fine of 75 euros each
Beginning of 2007, three other sets of parents from the Baptist church refused to send their children to school
because a project work under the title "My body belongs to me" was on the program. The theater workshop was intended to point to the problem of child sexual abuse and thereby contribute to prevention. The parents argued that the content is harmful for the moral development of their daughter. The Theater Project Educate the children to a "free sexuality" . They would be taught that they had to control their sexuality alone and their only counselor, and it has never mistaken, was to be their feeling. Each parent was imposed a fine of 120 euros for violation of compulsory education
Dispute about Mardi Gras celebration
Finally, the children of those families were unable to attend a Mardi Gras celebration at school because these be incompatible with their religious and moral beliefs. The parent viewed that a duty to participate in a carnival event would violate the religious neutrality of the school, as Fastnacht is a celebration of the Catholic Church. It will now so acclaimed that "Catholics to indulge before Lent eating and drinking, to disguise himself and usually completely uninhibited - exempt from all morality - behaving like fools." Also in this case there were fines for violation of the compulsory education of 40 and 80 euros
. As a result, three of the couples talked more children from lessons and also refused to pay all fines, which therefore kept on increasing. The six fathers and mothers were sentenced to prison terms of up to 43 days.
Two courts , the District Court of Paderborn and the Hamm Court confirmed the sentences imposed. The Federal Constitutional Court refused to accept the complaints of the parents. A violation of fundamental rights had not been adequately explained. The fundamental right to freedom of belief is accessible to limitations that arise from the Constitution itself, it said in the grounds of the judges in Karlsruhe. For this purpose belong to the educational mission granted to the State.
Not objectionable German compulsory education
The Strasbourg judges now confirmed this line: The German system of compulsory education, which precluded the teaching of children at home generally, aim for the integration of children into society. The emergence of parallel societies should be prevented. Although this legal opinion must be weighed against the importance of pluralism for democracy , the Court could recognize in no violation of human rights. Also, not in this particular case. There was no indication that the education provided would have put the view expressed by the parents sexual morality into question. Religious freedom and the right of education of parents on education does not mean that a right exists, spared opinions remain conflicting with their own convictions. The applicants are free to educate their children after school and on weekends in accordance with their religious beliefs. There was also no indication that the fines imposed were disproportionate. The prison sentence was imposed because the fines were not paid, not because of the original injury of compulsory education.
The decision was given by a Chamber of seven members, including judges from Luxembourg , Sweden , the Czech Republic , Slovenia , Liechtenstein , Ukraine and Germany