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Christian German couple jailed after withdrawing children from Sex Education

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Lawyers representing two German parents, who were both sentenced to six weeks imprisonment by a German court after they refused to allow four of their children to attend mandatory sex education classes and failed to pay the fine, have filed an emergency order with the European Court of Human Rights (“ECHR”) asking for the immediate release of the mother from prison.

Heinrich and Irene Wiens, who are actively involved in the Christian Baptist Church, did not allow their children to attend an interactive play entitled Mein Köper Gehört Mir (“My Body Is Mine") and four days of mandatory sex education classes; because they felt that the material would be inappropriate for their children. Instead, the couple taught their children at home in accordance with their own Christian values on sexuality whilst the lessons were being conducted.

The couple were fined 2,340 Euros for withdrawing their children from the classes but refused to pay the fine on legal and moral grounds. They were then sentenced to six weeks imprisonment each. Heinrich Wiens served his sentence last year, from 26th August to 6th October but Irene is serving her sentence at the moment.

Lawyers from the Alliance Defense Fund, an American based organisation that specialises in representing those who are discriminated against for manifesting their Christian beliefs, filed an emergency order to the ECHR last week that called for Irene’s immediate release from prison. The argument was made that the German state violated the Wiens’ parental rights as expressed in the European Convention of Human Rights and the Grundgesetz (German basic law).

Roger Kiska, legal counsel to the Alliance Defense Fund, 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 duty of Christian parents to pass down Christian teachings (including those on sexual ethics) to their progeny finds a clear precedent in the Bible. The Wiens’ case is a worrying example of the State infringing on the right of Christians to do just this.

Last week in the UK a Christian couple, Eunice and Owen Johns, were effectively barred from fostering children because they held mainstream Christian beliefs about sexuality. The Equality and Human Rights Commission argued in Court that potential foster children risked being ‘infected’ with Christian views.

Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “In both of these cases, the State is effectively legislating morality, which in many instances is a morality that directly opposes biblical values. Christians in Europe will be watching eagerly to see whether the ECHR upholds the right of Christian parents to perform their duty, or affirms the German state in its infringement of parental rights.”


Alliance Defense Fund Press Release

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