[JURIST] The German Constitutional Court [official website, in German] ruled [judgment, in German; press release, in German] Thursday that children can be required to attend sex education classes, despite parents' religious objections. The suit was brought by Baptist parents [DW report] who were fined 80 after keeping their two sons home from a school program on sexual abuse and another event celebrating Carnival. The court found that even though religious freedom is a fundamental right, there is also a very strong government interest in compulsory education. The court found that the school was "neutral and tolerant" toward the parents' religious beliefs and therefore did not violate the fundamental right.
Germany has been criticized for restricting religious freedom by banning headscarves [JURIST news archive] worn by Muslim women. In February, Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] said that Germany's bans on religious clothing and symbols are discriminatory [JURIST report] and violate international human rights standards. Headscarves have been the topic of fierce debate in Germany since teacher Fereshta Ludin [Pluralism Project backgrounder] filed suit after being denied a job in Stuttgart in 1998. Ludin argued that the German constitution guaranteed her right to wear the headscarf. The Constitutional Court ruled in 2003 that under then-current laws, she was correct, but it also noted that individual states could pass laws banning the headwear. Currently headscarves are prohibited in nine of the 16 German states, including in Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria [JURIST reports]. Baden-Wuerttemberg initially banned headscarves from schools in 2004 [JURIST report], becoming the first state in Germany to do so.