Majority of people in Scotland want Religious Observance law reformed

A new poll published by The Times today shows that nine-in-ten people in Scotland want to see the Religious Observance law changed.

According to the poll (Times) 38% of people preferred to see the requirement for Religious Observance scrapped altogether, with 17% preferring a legal opt-out for young people and 24% wanted parents to have the right to opt-out.

The poll comes after a legal challenge by Humanist Society Scotland in September this year after the Scottish Government refused to give young people a right to opt-out of Religious Observance.

Gordon MacRae, HSS Chief Executive

Gordon MacRae, HSS Chief Executive

HSS Chief Executive Gordon MacRae commented:

“This survey confirms what we have known for some time, that a majority of people in Scotland support a change in this arcane law.

“This evidence shows that nine-in-ten people in Scotland want to see a change in the law, which is something we fully support.

“The evidence is now stacking up, the current approach of the Scottish Government is untenable, but how long will we have to wait for action? This law remains unreformed since 1872, it’s surely time to revisit this anachronism.”

For more information and 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. Earlier this month the Scottish Government announced a review of the existing guidance on Religious Observance.
  3. Sample data available here, courtesy of The Times.


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