Court grants a further ‘pause’ in Humanist Society case

The Court of Session has today granted another pause in the proceedings brought against the Scottish Government by Humanist Society Scotland.

The Court has agreed to pause the case until 31st March. This will allow the Scottish Government extra time for discussion with HSS as it conducts a review into the guidance for Religious Observance in state schools.

It follows a meeting last week (1 February) between John Swinney and the Humanist Society where issues of children’s rights were discussed. At the meeting the Humanist Society reiterated its concerns that a lack of ability to opt-out for young people may breach the European Convention on Human Rights, and that the Society is committed to testing it.

A current limited consultation on the guidance for Religious Observance in state schools is ongoing, and due to be concluded on 24 February. Although amended guidance will not result in a legal right for young people to opt-out, Humanist Society has previously welcomed it as a ‘step in the right direction’.

Gordon MacRae, HSS Chief Executive

Gordon MacRae, HSS Chief Executive

Commenting on the news HSS Chief Executive Gordon MacRae said:

“We welcome this opportunity to work constructively with the Scottish Government. Everyone wants to avoid unnecessary court action, however it is our job to stand up for the rights of children in this process.

“We hope that the Scottish Government can conclude its narrow review of this guidance quickly, and avoid further costly court action.

“At my meeting with the Deputy First Minister I stressed our commitment to children’s rights, and asked him to take all steps necessary – including legislation – to ensure that the human rights of Scotland’s young people are respected.”


For further information or comment contact Gary McLelland on 07813060713 or

  1. Humanist Society Scotland is the national charity for humanists, atheists, freethinkers and agnostics who seek to live an ethical, rational fulfilling life. We have over 14,000 members and our celebrants conducted more than 3,500 weddings last year.
  2. HSS has been represented by Legal Spark Law Centre, a social enterprise law centre based in Glasgow.
  3. The ‘cist’ (pause) was granted by Lord Mulholland sitting in the Court of Session on 7 February, and communicated to HSS on 8 February.


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