Home > Public space > Germany > 2010-08-18 - High administrative Court of North Rhine-Westphalia, n. 19 A (...)

2010-08-18 - High administrative Court of North Rhine-Westphalia, n. 19 A 1211/90

Public space · Germany · Freedom of religion · School

There is no exemption from swimming lessons for Muslim girls

Key facts of the case - The parents of a Muslim girl requested an exemption for her from swimming lessons. Yet, when she was enrolled at the school, her mother had signed a declaration allowing her daughter to take part in co-education swimming lessons.

Main reasoning of the court - The Court held that students can generally be excused from lessons for important reasons in accordance with § 4 III S. 1 of the North-Rhine Westphalia Act. Yet, since the parents had signed the declaration, they cannot rely on this right due to the principle of good faith. Considering this, an exemption would only be possible if there had been a significant change of mind. The Court observed that there was no such a change for it had already been predictable by the time the declaration was signed, that the girl was going to live according to the rules of Muslim faith. The Court reasoned that because of the parents’ initial consent to co-educative swimming lessons, there is no violation of the basic right to religious freedom (Art. 4 GG). Even though the renunciation of a basic right is generally revocable, this is not possible in cases where the revocation is against good faith.