A method that allows students to skip religion classes by declaring they are not Greek Orthodox has brought Greece fines from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for breaching their rights and forcing them to reveal their beliefs.
In a unanimous ruling, the ECHR court said that authorities do not have the right to oblige individuals to indicate their religion or lack thereof, reported Kathimerini over the verdict and its implications for the government.
The Strasbourg-based court said the requirement places an undue burden on parents to reveal information from which it can be inferred that they and their children adhere, or do not adhere, to a specific religious dogma, the paper said.
“The authorities did not have the right to intervene in the sphere of individual conscience, to ascertain individuals’ religious belief or to oblige them to reveal their beliefs,” the ruling said, adding thesystem can even deter parents from making an exemption request, the court said.
The applicants were five Greek nationals, parents and children, who live on the Aegean islands of Milos and Sifnos, the court ruling Greece must pay 8,000 euros ($8913) for damages jointly, to the first three applicants and the same amount, jointly, to the fourth and fifth applicants. It awarded 6,566.52 euros ($7,314) to the first three applicants for costs and expenses in the ruling.