Humanist Society ‘given green light’ to proceed with Judicial Review

Humanist Society Scotland has been given permission to proceed with a Judicial Review against the Scottish Government by the Court of Session.

The Judicial Review was launched by HSS in September after the Scottish Government refused to allow young people to opt-out of Religious Observance.

Lord Armstrong’s decision was given in a preliminary hearing at the Court of Session today (14 October 2016).

The preliminary hearing was called after the Scottish Government objected to the grounds of the Judicial Review.

Gordon MacRae, HSS Chief Executive

Gordon MacRae, HSS Chief Executive

Commenting on the news HSS Chief Executive Gordon MacRae commented:

“Today’s decision is a green light to continue our efforts to ensure that young people in Scotland are able to enjoy the same rights as adults to freedom of thought, belief and religion.

“It is disappointing that the Scottish Government is continuing with its attempts to block our arguments for children’s rights being heard. We are delighted that the overwhelming case for children’s rights continues.

He added:

“It was never our preference to have to rely on the Courts to ensure that the rights of young people in Scotland are respected and enforced. However, having exhausted every other avenue available to us, we feel it is time to clarify this issue once and for all.

“It remains clear to us that the Scottish Government has acted unlawfully by refusing to update its guidance on Religious Observance. However, we remain open to offers to work together and resolve the matter directly.”



For further comment please contact Gary McLelland on 07813060713 or

Permission to proceed with the Judicial Review was given by Lord Armstrong sitting in the Court of Session on Friday 14 October 2016.

No date has been set for a substantive hearing, but it is expected to be in early 2017.

The petition for Judicial Review is proceeding on restricted grounds. HSS have agreed that, for technical reasons, the human rights arguments will not be heard.

The remaining case is based on the fact that the Scottish Government’s letter to HSS is incompatible with both the current legislation on Religious Observance, and the 2011 Scottish Government policy.

On 30 September 2010 up to 50 pupils were suspended by Taylor High School in Motherwell for refusing to attend Religious Observance:


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