Switzerland has won a case in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) permitting it to compel Muslim parents to send their daughters to mixed swimming pool lessons. The panel of judges agreed that although freedom of religion had been “interfered with”, the move was acceptable due to the aim of “social integration”.
The case was brought before the court when two Swiss-Turkish parents from the city of Basel refused to send their daughters to a mixed swimming lesson on the grounds that “their beliefs prohibited them from allowing their children to take part”. The couple were warned that they would face a fine of up to 1,000 Swiss Francs each.
The parents did not comply with the advice and were eventually ordered to pay a fine of 350 Swiss francs per parent. They appealed to a Basel court which dismissed their claim, while a second appeal was also struck down by Switzerland’s federal court in 2012. The couple then lodged their case to the ECHR based on article 9, which also threw out their complaint judging there had been no violation of “freedom of religion”. The panel was made up of Swiss, Swedish, Spanish, Serbian and Slovakian judges, who delivered the verdict on Tuesday. The court noted that school played a core role in social integration.