STRASBOURG, France — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys representing two German parents filed an emergency order Thursday with the European Court of Human Rights, calling for the mother’s immediate prison release. ADF attorneys filed an appeal on the parents’ behalf last year asking the ECHR to uphold national and international law against the German government’s unlawful incarceration and fines in violation of parental rights.
Heinrich and Irene Wiens chose to keep their four children from attending a mandatory play and four school days of “sexual education” that taught students an extremely permissive view of sexuality. For this they were fined and then sentenced to more than six weeks in prison for refusing to pay. The father already served his prison term. Both parents contend that the programs oppose their Christian beliefs and that forcing their children’s participation is unlawful. ADF has four similar cases before the ECHR, as Irene Wiens is the 10th Christian parent imprisoned.
“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,” said ADF Legal Counsel Roger Kiska. “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. These types of cases are crucial battles in the effort to keep bad decisions concerning parental rights overseas from being adopted by American courts.”
In June 2006, the Wiens’ objected to their children’s attendance at both a mandatory stage play and four school days of so-called “sexual education” classes. Both parents believed the programs contradicted their sincerely held religious beliefs, as they and their four children are active in the Christian Baptist Church. The Wiens’ kept their children at home during the programs and instead instructed them in their own Christian values on sexuality. The parents were subsequently sentenced by a lower court in June 2008 and both were fined a total of 2,340 Euros (approximately $3,250 U.S.), which they refused to pay on legal and moral grounds. As a result, Heinrich Wiens served 43 days in prison from August 26 to October 6, and Irene Wiens is still serving her 43-day sentence in jail.
School officials allege that the purpose of the compulsory play “Mein Köper Gehört Mir” (My Body Is Mine) was to introduce preventative measures for sexual abuse amongst children. Yet ADF attorneys argue that the play and “sexual education” lessons also promoted a very permissive view of sex and sexuality that strongly contradicts the Wiens’ Christian beliefs. Also, the Wiens’ contend that no scientific proof exists that the programs deter sexual abuse, but that they rather teach children to become sexually active by instructing them to observe their inner feelings of sexuality, ultimately teaching that if something feels good sexually, then it is an acceptable practice.
ADF attorneys argue in their application of appeal filed with the European Court of Human Rights in Wiens v. Germany that the state violated the Wiens’ parental rights under Protocol 1, Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights, Articles 4 and 6 of the Grundgesetz, German basic law, and other binding international treaties. Gabriele Eckermann is serving as co-counsel with ADF in this suit and four similar suits before the ECHR.
- Pronunciation guide: Wiens (VEENZ’)
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.