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Lautsi and others v. Italy, No. 30814/06, ECtHR (Grand Chamber), 18 March 2011


The display of the religious symbol of the crucifix in the classrooms does not breach the right of parents to raise their children in accordance with  their religious beliefs granted by article 2 of the first additional Protocol to the ECHR.

Normative references

Art. 2 Prot. No. 1 ECHR
Art. 9 ECHR


1. Article 2 of the first additional Protocol to the ECHR does not prevent States from conveying, through teaching or education, information or knowledge that have, directly or indirectly, a religious or philosophical character and, consequently, does not permit parents to object to the integration of such teaching or education in the school curriculum. On the other hand, as its aim is to safeguard pluralism in education, art. 2 of the first additional Protocol of the ECHR  requires the State, in exercising its functions with regard to education and teaching, to take care that information or knowledge included in the curriculum is conveyed in an objective, critical and pluralistic manner, enabling pupils to develop a critical mind, particularly with regard to religion, in a calm atmosphere, free of any proselytism.

2. The display of the crucifix in the public school classrooms cannot be considered as a form of indoctrination towards pupils, since it is an essentially passive symbol, which cannot be deemed to have an influence on pupils comparable to that of didactic speech or participation in religious activities. Moreover, although the presence of the crucifix undoubtedly reserves an increased visibility to Christianity, the effects of this visibility must be relativized in a school system that guarantees truly pluralistic teaching. Therefore, the choice not to remove the crucifix from the classrooms falls within the limits of the margin of appreciation left to the State in the exercise of the functions it assumes in the field of education and teaching and does not breach art. 2 of the first additional Protocol to the ECHR.