Unconstitutional to record religious faith at school, says data protection body


Greece's data protection authority (HDPA) ruled on Wednesday that keeping records of the religious faith of students violates the constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.

This decision concerned the inclusion of the student's' faith on school degrees or the Education Ministry's online “myschool” website. HDPA said it is also illegal to record their nationality.

The independent authority further ruled that it is illegal to ask parents to submit an official statement declaring their child is not a Christian Orthodox – Greece's dominant religion – in order to be exempted from religion class. HDPA called on the Education Ministry to comply with the decision. 

The question on the legality of the inclusion of religion in official school documents came after a complaint by the Hellenic League for Human Rights (HLHR), Greece's oldest human rights NGO, and the country's Union of Atheists.

“This is a decision that justifies the role of the independent authority as a protector of rights, which works protectively when the legislative and executive powers fail to adequately secure the conditions for the exercise of religious freedom and the protection of sensitive personal data in education,” said Yiannis Ioannidis, president of HLHR.

“We hope this time the Ministry of Education will comply with the recommendations of the authority,” he added.