Scottish Government launch consultation on Religious Observance

The Scottish Government have launched a new consultation on revised guidance for Religious Observance in Scottish schools.

This follows an agreement between the Scottish Government and Humanist Society Scotland to ‘pause’ legal action in the Courts.

In September 2016 Humanist Society Scotland launched a judicial review of a decision by the Scottish Government not to allow young people to opt-out of Religious Observance. The judicial review was paused in September with the agreement of HSS and the Government after they agreed to consult on new guidance for schools.

Gordon MacRae, HSS Chief Executive

Gordon MacRae, HSS Chief Executive

Commenting on the news HSS Chief Executive Gordon MacRae said:

“We welcome the Scottish Government taking action on this issue. It is a step in the right direction to see the Scottish Government taking action to make sure that children have a voice in decisions about Religious Observance.

“We will engage constructively with this consultation, and continue to make the case for children’s rights to freedom of religion and belief to be respected in Government policy.

“However the Government is conducting this consultation with one arm tied behind their back, as they themselves admit; this process will not result in a change of law. What we can hope for is that children are given a voice, which falls short of a legal right to opt-out.”

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. The consultation on RO is limited to a range of religious and belief bodies, parent and teacher representatives and the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The consultation will close on 24 February 2017.
  3. The consultation will not examine any potential changes in law, but only the guidance, which was last updated in 2011. New guidance is expected to  bring “clarity about the relevance of young people’s own views in any discussions about withdrawal from RO”.


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