See You in Court, Mr Dewar
The Scottish Executive is once again heading for a nightmare collision with the European Convention on Human Rights – this time over plans to repeal Section 28.
A new legal opinion, released today by The Christian Institute, says allowing gay lessons would violate parent’s human rights. Under the Convention, parents have the right to have their children educated in accordance with their religious and philosophical convictions. The opinion, provided by Anne Smith QC, makes clear that any teaching which is offensive or disrespectful to the views of parents would be open to challenge in the Courts.
It could only take one lesson
The opinion makes clear that legal proceedings could be launched against the Executive by any parent if their children’s school promotes homosexuality. It could therefore only take one gay sex lesson for the Executive to end up in Court.
The Government itself incorporated the new European laws into the British legal system, and the Scottish Executive has already faced embarrassing problems. Temporary Sheriffs lost their jobs and convictions were quashed recently when the European Convention made them void.
Institute to assist parents
The Christian Institute today announced it would give any help it could to parents who want to uphold their human rights in court. The Institute also called for the setting up of a fighting fund to help parents not eligible for legal aid.
A draft circular drawn up by the Scottish Executive says that parents who want to take their children out of gay lessons may have to explain themselves to the school. But the legal opinion shows that, whatever Ministers say, parents have no legal right to withdraw their children from gay lessons, or even to be informed about their content.
Non-statutory guidelines make legal conflict much more likely
The scope for legal conflict is made much more likely by the Executive’s refusal to allow clear statutory protections for parents and children. Scottish education minister, Sam Galbraith, says that he is only offering guidelines that have no legal force. And Donald Dewar’s amendment has already been denounced as meaningless. If the Executive persists in repealing Section 28, legal action could be the only option left open to parents who want to protect their children from homosexual promotion.
The legal opinion says parents, pupils and teachers could sue any local authority that tries to promote gay lifestyles in the classroom. The Scottish Parliament itself could even be sued for failing to prevent breaches of human rights. Anne Smith QC concludes that the only way for the Executive to “convention-proof” the repeal of Section 28 is to bring in detailed statutory regulations to protect children.
Colin Hart, Director of The Christian Institute, said today:
“If the Scottish Executive won’t protect our children, then ordinary parents will have to do it themselves. It is shocking that families may have to go through the trauma of legal proceedings simply to protect their children from homosexual promotion in the classroom. This is why The Christian Institute is today promising to give every help it can to any parent who feels their human rights have been violated.”