Scottish government faces legal challenge over religious observance

The Scottish government is facing a potential legal challenge over its decision not to allow young people to opt-out of religious observance in schools.

The most recent UN Children’s Rights Committee review called on the Scottish government to extend the parental right to opt-out of religious observance to young people.

Currently pupils aged 16-18 in England and Wales have the right to opt-out, while those in Scotland require parental permission to do so.

The Humanist Society Scotland (HSS) is seeking a judicial review of the Scottish government’s decision to not allow young people to opt-out and claims that it may have acted unlawfully.

Gordon MacRae, HSS chief executive, described the Scottish government’s policy on religious observance as ‘a mess’ and said that young people ‘deserve better’.

He said: “Today in Scotland young people are trusted to get married, join the army and vote in elections and for the constitutional future of Scotland. However, Scottish ministers still do not trust them to make their own decisions about attending religious observance or to give young people the same rights as those living in England and Wales.

“For sometime now Humanist Society Scotland has been calling on the Scottish government to update its policy on religious observance. I had hoped that if they would not listen to us then at least they would listen to the United Nations Children’s Rights Committee.”