Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights highlight need for Religious Observance reform

Together (the Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights) have published their 2016 State of Children’s Rights report, recommending that the Scottish Government review their policy on Religious Observance.

Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights) is an alliance of over 340 children’s organisations, academics and interested professionals. Their vision is that the rights of all children in Scotland are protected, respected and fulfilled, as enshrined in the UNCRC and other human rights conventions.

The report is being compiled ahead of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process of the United Nations, which will take place in Geneva next year.

The report recommends:

“Scottish Government should conduct a Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment on legislation and guidance relating to religious observance and instruction in religion to ensure its full compliance with the UNCRC and other human rights treaties. Particular attention should be given to ensuring that children’s rights to have their views heard in line with UNCRC Article 12 are upheld.”

Gary McLelland, Head of Communications and Public Affairs

Gary McLelland, Head of Communications and Public Affairs

Commenting on the report, HSS Head of Communications and Public Affairs, Gary McLelland, said:

“I am delighted to see this important issue highlighted by the Together report.

“This is a highly authoritative report highlighting a range of areas where Scotland needs to make progress on children’s rights.

“After years of trying to campaign for reform of the outdated requirement for Religious Observance, we were forced to go to the courts.

“This report is yet another strong signal to the Scottish Government that we need to ensure that young people have the right to opt-out of Religious Observance.”

For further comment please contact Gary McLelland on 07813060713 or

You can read the report here:

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:

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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