Report 5095/71 5920/72 5926/72

Applicant type Natural person
Country Denmark
Decision no. 5095/71 5920/72 5926/72
Date 21/03/1975
Judges . FAwCETT,

Institution Commission
Type Report
Outcome Art. 8 No violation
Reason Balance
Type of privacy Private and family life
Keywords Sex education schools
Facts of the case Schools should engage in sex education, due to a law introduced in Denmark.
Analysis As a more general point of interest, the Commission repeats the reasoning adopted in the Belgian linguistic case, pointing out that each article in the Convention has a clearly seperate domain of application, while later, the standard reasoning would be that the Convention should be read as a whole.

As to Article 8 ECHR, it is the first time the Commission adopts a full-fledged balancing test. It does not really analyse whether there has been an interference, whether this interference was prescribed for by law, what interest it served and whether the interference was necessary in a democratic society, but specifies merely that if ‘sex education is handled with all due respect for the different convictions of parents, the danger of such a disturbance will be greatly diminished. If in specific cases that disturbance would still result, and it cannot be completely avoided, sex education would not be unjustifiable or arbitrary for the reasons givén above. It would be the unavoidable result of the difficult balancing betweén the interests of the community and the individual in the sphere of education which is implied in the Convention.’

What is interesting is that half of the judges (7 out of 14) have written a dissenting opinion. They find a violation of Artilce 2 Protocol 1, because that provision does not include a limmitation clause, ‘Ultimately the reasoning of the majority opinior, appears to us to go against the eandatory provisions of the second sentence of Art . 2 of Protocol No. 1 . This provision, unlike others in the Convention such as Arts, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11, does not allow, any derogation from it, whatever the reason . We do not purport to attribute to beliefs which are merely absurd or even dangerous the character of religious or philosophical convictions in the sense of Art . 2 of Protocol No. 1 . (One could consider in a different conten sects whose followers refuse all medical help for themselves or for their children). But in this case the . applicants base their objoctions on well recognised religious principles in the member States of the Council of Europe . They do nct rely on absurd or dangerous beliefs . The philosophical or religious nature of the convictions which the applicants invoke could not be disputed and in fact is not disputed by the Governnent . Consequently ; the State, whatever the reason, may not impose on the applicants’ children an education which does not respect these convictions . Sex education being integrated in Denmark with the general curriculum precludes the State from granting exemptions to children .’
Documents Report