Home > Family > Germany > 2009-07-21 - Federal Constitutional Court, n. 1 BvR 1358/09

2009-07-21 - Federal Constitutional Court, n. 1 BvR 1358/09

Family · Germany · Religious freedom · Religious upbringing

Having a carnival festivity and a theatre project at school that sensitizes children to sexual abuse does not violate the parents’ religious freedom

Key facts of the case – The complainants are Baptists and parents of two students in elementary school. In the school, a theatre project that sensitizes children to sexual abuse and a carnival festivity took place. They did not allow their children to go to school on these days. Therefore, they were ordered to pay a fine for the infringement of the compulsory school attendance. The parents filed a constitutional complaint, claiming that their basic right of religious freedom (Article 4 GG) and their basic right to educate their children (Article 6 II GG) as well as the principle of State neutrality were violated.
According to the parents, carnival festivities are an expression of the Roman Catholic faith and an occasion where everyone is free to fool around. This is not compatible with their faith. Additionally, they claimed that having a Catholic festivity in a public school violates the principle of State neutrality.
They further argued, that the theater project is based on a form of sexual education that is not in conformity with their religious convictions and therefore infringes their right to educate the children the way they think it is best.

Main reasoning of the court – The Federal Constitutional Court rejected this claim. When the carnival festivities took place, there had been alternative activities for children that did not want to participate. Since the participation in the carnival was not compulsory for the children, it neither violates the parents’ religious freedom, nor the principle of State neutrality.
Further, the theatre project is not objected to either. The project does not advertise any form of sexuality that does not go together with the parents convictions. It rather sensitizes the children to sexual abuse and is only to be seen as prevention. Even if the parents’ convictions differ from what is covered by the project, the prevention event does not violate their religious freedom or their right to educate their children.
Therefore, the constitutional claim was rejected.