HSS calls on John Swinney to intervene on Religious Observance

Humanist Society Scotland have written to John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Education, calling on him to intervene personally after reports of up to 50 young people being punished for failing to attend Religious Observance.

In a letter to John Swinney, HSS Chief Exec says that he must now intervene personally to ensure that more young people are not punished for refusing to attend Religious Observance.

Gordon MacRae has also asked to meet the Deputy First Minister to discuss his concerns in detail.

Only last month HSS announced that it was to seek a Judicial Review of a recent decision by the Scottish Government which decided against extending the parental opt-out right to young people themselves.

Gordon MacRae, HSS Chief Executive

Gordon MacRae, HSS Chief Executive

HSS Chief Executive Gordon MacRae said:

“Reports that up to 50 young people in Motherwell have been punished for not attending a religious service just serves to highlight the urgent need for reform of the outdated requirement for Religious Observance in Scottish state schools.

“Suspending a young person from school, and thus denying them access to education, for choosing not to take part in religious worship is outrageous. At a time when the Scottish Government is so focused on reform of our education system, the silence on this issue speaks volumes about how committed they are to children’s rights’.

“On Wednesday we learned that the Scottish Government is to appoint a QC to represent them against our judicial review. Our members ad supporters have already helped us raise money to get to this stage, and we’ll do all that we can to make sure we’re not outgunned by expensive lawyers.

“Parents across Scotland will be dumbfounded to learn that the Scottish Government is using senior lawyers, at their expense, to fight off our calls for progressive reform.

“The Scottish Government talk the talk on children’s rights, but have found themselves on the wrong side of this issue time and time again.

“The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 makes it a requirement for Scottish Ministers to ‘ keep under consideration whether there are any steps which they could take which would or might secure better or further effect in Scotland of the UNCRC requirements’. Yet they fail to act, and want to excuse themselves from their own commitments using legal technicalities.”


For further comment please contact Gary McLelland on 07813060713 or gary@humanism.scot.

For more information on HSS’s legal challenge see: https://www.humanism.scot/what-we-do/news/humanists-to-challenge-scottish-government-in-courts/

About HSS: Humanist Society Scotland seeks to represent the views of people in Scotland who wish to lead ethical and fulfilling lives guided by reason, empathy and compassion. We provide a range of non-religious ceremonies and campaign for a secular state. HSS has over 14,000 members across Scotland.


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