What about Northern Ireland?


The BBC covered, in detail, the topics covered by the RSE curriculum for Northern Ireland in a recent news report published 6th May 2023. Secondary Schools topics to include:

Primary School Topics to include:


On 6 March 2018, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) published the CEDAW Report.

In relation to education, the CEDAW Report found in particular that “young people in Northern Ireland were denied the education necessary to enjoy their sexual and reproductive health and rights."

The Report also made a number of recommendations relating to sexual and reproductive health rights and services for the UK, focusing on Northern Ireland, including the recommendation in paragraph 86(d) of the CEDAW Report that the state party: “Make age-appropriate, comprehensive and scientifically accurate education on sexual and reproductive health and rights a compulsory component of curriculum for adolescents, covering prevention of early pregnancy and access to abortion, and monitor its implementation.”

Here are two of the "criticisms" in the report...

Page 12: "Most children in Northern Ireland attend denominational schools, either Catholic or Protestant. Church representatives play active roles in school management boards, and the result is that relationship and sexuality education, although a recommended part of the primary and post-primary statutory curriculum of the Department of Education, is underdeveloped or non-existent since it is at the school’s discretion to implement the contents of the curriculum according to its values and ethos."

Page 19: "Findings

74. The Committee finds that the failure to combat stereotypes depicting women primarily as mothers exacerbates discrimination against women and violates article 5, read with articles 1 and 2, of the Convention.

3. Access to sexual health education

75. The provision of age-appropriate, culturally sensitive, comprehensive and scientifically accurate sexuality education and information is critical to the realization of women’s right to health. Leaving the delivery of the curriculum on relationship and sexuality education at the discretion of schools results in poor-quality sexuality education for young people and the indoctrination of anti-abortion and abstinence ethos."

As you can read above, they are using the excuse of woman's rights to override any rights of the unborn child, female or male, disregard that only biological women can be mothers, and attempt to remove the Christian influence over current RSE teaching in Northern Ireland schools.

Read the full report by opening the preview or visiting the UN website.


Statement UIN HCWS824
by Chris Heaton-Harris
6th June 2023

"Section 9 of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Act 2019 (“the NIEF Act”), places me under a legal duty to ensure that the recommendations in paragraphs 85 and 86 of the 2018 Report of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (“the CEDAW Report”) are implemented in full.

I have today laid Regulations in Parliament to implement the CEDAW recommendation to “make age-appropriate, comprehensive and scientifically accurate education on sexual and reproductive health and rights, a compulsory component of curriculum for adolescents, covering prevention of early pregnancy and access to abortion in Northern Ireland, and monitor its implementation”. The Regulations will mirror the approach taken in England with regard to education about the prevention of early pregnancy and access to abortion. This is provided for in Regulation 2(2)."

The regulations will:


85. The Committee recommends that the State party urgently:

(a) Repeal sections 58 and 59 of the Offences against the Person Act, 1861, so that no criminal charges can be brought against women and girls who undergo abortion or against qualified health-care professionals and all others who provide and assist in the abortion;

(b) Adopt legislation to provide for expanded grounds to legalize abortion at least in the following cases:

(i) Threat to the pregnant woman’s physical or mental health, without conditionality of “long-term or permanent” effects;

(ii) Rape and incest;

(iii) Severe fetal impairment, including fatal fetal abnormality, without perpetuating stereotypes towards persons with disabilities and ensuring appropriate and ongoing support, social and financial, for women who decide to carry such pregnancies to term;

(c) Introduce, as an interim measure, a moratorium on the application of criminal laws concerning abortion and cease all related arrests, investigations and criminal prosecutions, including of women seeking post-abortion care and health-care professionals;

(d) Adopt evidence-based protocols for health-care professionals on providing legal abortions particularly on the grounds of physical and mental health and ensure continuous training on the protocols;

(e) Establish a mechanism to advance women’s rights, including through monitoring authorities’ compliance with international standards concerning access to sexual and reproductive health, including access to safe abortions, and ensure enhanced coordination between the mechanism with the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission;

(f) Strengthen existing data-collection systems and data sharing between the Department and the police to address the phenomenon of self-induced abortion.

B. Sexual and reproductive health rights and services

86. The Committee recommends that the State party:

(a) Provide non-biased, scientifically sound and rights-based counselling and information on sexual and reproductive health services, including on all methods of contraception and access to abortion;

(b) Ensure the accessibility and affordability of sexual and reproductive health services and products, including on safe and modern contraception, including oral, emergency, long-term and permanent forms of contraception, and adopt a protocol to facilitate access at pharmacies, clinics and hospitals;

(c) Provide women with access to high-quality abortion and post-abortion care in all public health facilities and adopt guidance on doctor-patient confidentiality in that area;

(d) Make age-appropriate, comprehensive and scientifically accurate education on sexual and reproductive health and rights a compulsory component of curriculum for adolescents, covering prevention of early pregnancy and access to abortion, and monitor its implementation;

(e) Intensify awareness-raising campaigns on sexual and reproductive health rights and services, including on access to modern contraception;

(f) Adopt a strategy to combat gender-based stereotypes regarding women’s primary role as mothers;

(g) Protect women from harassment by anti-abortion protesters by investigating complaints and prosecuting and punishing perpetrators.

On 8th June 2023, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission issued a report:

Relationships and Sexuality Education in Post Primary Schools in Northern Ireland: A Compelling Case for Reform

Along with a video presentation that is available below.

Of particular note in the video, is the recommendation to:

"ensure that meaningful sexual and reproductive health education is part of the mandatory school curriculum for all schools..." (page 20 of NIHRC Report)

Page 34 NIHRC RSE Report 8/6/23 states:

In 2020, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, commented:

“international human rights standards on the right to freedom of religion or belief do not entitle parents to withdraw children from sexuality education classes where relevant information is conveyed in an objective and impartial manner”.134 She therefore commended the decision by the Welsh Government to remove the possibility for parents to withdraw their children from parts of the curriculum on RSE. However, she noted the importance of engaging with parents... 

"The CEDAW Committee’s recommendation has been uniquely incorporated into UK law. This placed a specific obligation on the Secretary of State for NI to implement the recommendation. The Commission therefore is responding to a decision of Parliament and an obligation on the UK Government.

The Commission’s investigation to assess the implementation of the CEDAW recommendation took place between October 2021- January 2023.

The report makes 13 recommendations (page 70-81) designed to provide practical guidance for schools and public authorities in complying with the CEDAW recommendation." Source

So we see that the NI Human Rights Commission are "directing traffic" with regards the implementation of compliance with the CEDAW recommendations.

The list of referenced documents are extensive in drawing up this report and are shown in the video presentation highlighted below.

On the list, is the UNESCO International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education which we have detailed on the RSE Exposed page.