European Human Rights Court Rules Against Crucifixes

A quote from the press agency AKI, 3 November 2009

The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday ruled in favour of an Italian woman who opposed the display of a Catholic crucifix at her children's school. Soile Lautsi, from Abano Terme, a small town outside the northern city of Padua, had lodged the case to protest against the crucifix at the state school. She was also awarded 5,000 euros in damages.

“The presence of the crucifix...could easily be interpreted by pupils of all ages as a religious sign and they would feel that they were being educated in a school environment bearing the stamp of a given religion,” said the verdict of the court, based in the French city of Strasbourg. […]

In a media statement the court said Lautsi had alleged on behalf of herself and her children, that the display of a crucifix in the state school attended by her children (in 2001-2002) was contrary to her right to ensure their education and teaching... in conformity with her religious and philosophical convictions. Both her children, aged respectively 11 and 13 years in 2001-2002, were students at the Vittorino da Feltre public school, located in Abano Terme.

After extensive legal wrangling, on 13 February 2006, Italy's State Council dismissed Lautsi's appeal, stating that the cross had become one of the secular values of the Italian constitution and represented civil values.