A new report by the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) has blasted the ethos of the 94 per cent of state-funded schools in the North it estimates to be religious in character.
The humanist organisation has claimed that religious education is reinforcing sectarianism beyond the school gate.
IHEU’s ‘The Freedom of Thought Report 2017’, states: “In Northern Ireland 94 per cent of state funded schools are religious in character.
“This not only reinforces sectarianism beyond the school gate, but also excludes the non-religious.”
The study also points to the unavailability of same-sex marriage and abortion to citizens as an example of the “mixed fortunes in the UK for advocacy of humanist values” in the North.
“In 2014 same-sex marriage was legalised across the UK, except in Northern Ireland, but humanist marriage has been blocked except in Scotland,” the report notes.
“Abortion, while generally legal in most of the UK, remains significantly more restricted in Northern Ireland where it is illegal even in the case of rape and any approved abortion must satisfy the purpose of ‘preserving the life of the mother’.
“This can cover adverse physical and mental health risks other than immediate life-or-death situations, but many women from Northern Ireland still need to travel to other parts of the UK (or elsewhere) to obtain the
procedure, always at their own expense.
“From 2017 women from Northern Ireland can now obtain an abortion legally on the National Health Service elsewhere in the UK.”