A mother in Germany has been sent to jail for refusing to pay a fine for taking her children out of government-run sex education classes.
Heinrich and Irene Wiens were initially fined €2,340 for refusing to send four of their children to the controversial classes in 2006.
But when the couple, who believe that the lessons oppose their Christian beliefs, refused to pay the fine on moral and legal grounds they were each sentenced to 43 days imprisonment.
Now lawyers from the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), a leading religious liberty group, are asking the European Court of Human Rights to intervene in the case.
Roger Kiska, ADF Legal Counsel, said: “Parents, not the government, are the ones ultimately responsible for making educational choices for their children, and jailing them for standing on this universal right is simply unconscionable”.
“Irene Wiens was well within her rights under the European Convention of Human Rights to opt to teach her children a view of sexuality that is in accord with her own religious beliefs, instead of sending them to four days of classes and an interactive play that she found to be objectionable.”
The controversy stems from June 2006 when the Wiens refused to allow four of their children to attend a mandatory play and four days of sex education lessons.
School officials claim that the play aims to introduce preventative measures for sexual abuse among children.
But the Wiens warn that both the play and sex education lessons ultimately sexualise their children.
Home schooling is still illegal in Germany under laws introduced during the Nazi era. The German law means that parents who choose to home school their children can face fines or even imprisonment.
Instead of sending their children to the classes the Wiens opted to instruct them about Christian sexual ethics.
Irene’s husband Heinrich has already served 43 days in prison from 26 August to 6 October.
In January last year it emerged that a Christian family from Germany had been granted political asylum in the US after facing the threat of prison for home schooling their children.
Uwe and Hannelore Romeike, who are evangelical Christians, were forced to flee Germany as they wished to educate their five children at home.
Mr Romeike said: “I think it’s important for parents to have the freedom to choose the way their children can be taught”.
Mr Romeike and his wife withdrew their three oldest children from school in 2006 after they encountered problems with violence, bullying and peer pressure.