A Dutch political party which operates according to a strict interpretation of the Bible and opposes votes for women has lost its efforts to stop women from becoming MPs on its behalf.
The European Court of Human rights in Strasburg on Friday rejected an appeal by the fundamentalist Christian party SGP, which says women should not be allowed to hold political office.
The European Court said in its ruling ‘the advancement of the equality of the sexes is today a major goal in the member States of the Council of Europe’, and that ‘very weighty reasons’ would have to be put forward to justify different treatment on the grounds of sex.’
The SGP took its case to the European Court after the Dutch supreme court ruled in 2010 the party must allow women to stand for election and that the state has a duty to ensure they have this right in practice.
The party has two seats in the 150-seat Dutch parliament and receives €800,000 in government support a year.
In a reaction to Friday’s ruling, the SGP said the European court decision will have far-reaching consequences for other Christian parties as well as the SGP.
The ruling means the principle of equality is now ‘so absolute that other classic political and religious freedoms have been pushed aside’, the party said.
The SGP will now study the court ruling closely and decide what to do next.
The SGP believes the country should be governed ‘entirely on the basis of the ordinances of God’, which means men and women should have different roles.
Download the court ruling
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