RIGHTS >Euro Court rules in favor of Switzerland in Turkish parents’ co-ed swimming rejection case


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The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Jan. 10 ruled in favor of Switzerland over a case in which Turkish-origin parents said their right to “freedom of thought, conscience and religion” was breached when they were fined by Swiss authorities for refusing to send their daughters to co-ed swimming lessons, which the parents claimed it was against their religious convictions. 

The court said “there had been no violation of Article 9 of the Convention,” which refers to when Swiss authorities fined Aziz Osmanoğlu and Sebahat Kocabaş with a total of 1,292 Euros after they refused to send their 1999-born and 2001-born daughters to co-ed swimming lessons, which was mandatory in schools in the Basel canton of Switzerland. The fine came as Swiss authorities regarded the parents’ rejection as a breach of their parental duties.  

The ruling said the girls would have been exempt from attending swimming lessons only if they had reached the age of puberty. 

The indictment also said that authorities had offered flexible arrangements to the applicants, as their daughters had been allowed to wear burkini during swimming classes and were allowed to undress in places where boys were not present. 

After the parents exhausted all domestic legal avenues appealing to the fine, they applied to the ECHR, which eventually ruled that “by giving precedence to the children’s obligation to follow the full school curriculum and their successful integration over the applicants’ private interest in obtaining an exemption from co-ed swimming lessons for their daughters on religious grounds.” The Swiss authorities had acted within the jurisdiction of compulsory education laws.


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