Obligatory Classes Offending Christian Parents at ECtHR

Country: European Institutions (EU, ECHR, et.al.)

Date of incident: March 25, 2010

Over 300 parents and children filed a lawsuit with the European Court of Human Rights on the grounds that Spain’s compulsory “Education in Citizenship” classes promote sexual promiscuity and abortion and provide materials that mock Christianity. In 2012, the Spanish government stopped the programme.

Since 2007, more than 54,000 parents have registered complaints over the four-course “Education in Citizenship” program, which is mandatory for 10- to 16-year-old students attending Spain’s public and private schools. However, the subject matter continues to be taught. Professionals for Ethics, an organisation based in Spain that has led the battle over the “Education in Citizenship” classes for the past three years, along with the Alliance Defense Fund, are representing the parents and children who hail from public and private schools across Spain. Parents argue that the mandatory nature of the classes violates the right to freedom of conscience and religious convictions of both parents and students. Some materials covered in the classes expose students to explicit sexual images as well as graphic content that degrades Christianity. “The state shouldn’t usurp the right of parents to raise children according to their beliefs. Forcing students to participate in values training contrary to their convictions is a violation of basic human rights,” said Alliance Defense Fund’s Legal Counsel Roger Kiska. “It is not the government’s role to dictate what private and public school students should believe by imposing anti-religious views and advocating sexual libertinism, homosexual behaviour, and abortion.” The suit was filed under four articles of the European Convention of Human Rights that protect privacy, the family, and the best interests of the child (Article 8); require states to respect the right of parents to educate their children according to their own religious convictions (Protocol 1, Article 2); secure freedom of thought, conscience, and religion to prohibit social indoctrination in schools violating those liberties (Article 9); and prohibit states from discriminating against citizens based on their religious and moral convictions (Article 14). In 2012, the Spanish government stopped the programme. For examples of the textbook material please view: http://www.telladf.org/UserDocs/EICcartoons.pdf http://www.alliancedefensefund.org/news/story.aspx?cid=5242