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Strict Christian party loses European court fight on women MPs

Friday 20 July 2012

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.

Religious freedom

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

Fundamentalist Christian party must allow women to become MPs
Fundamentalist Christian party takes ban on women to Europe
Minister waits for European verdict on SGP

Is religious freedom important enough to justify different treatment for women? Have your say using the comment form below

© DutchNews.nl


Readers' Comments

Was this ruling necessary? Why would a woman run for Parliament in a Party whos platform is against women running for Parliament? It seems no one's rights are being protected or denied here except the party's right to have a political view and platform. I'm finding Europe to be a politically very silly place at times.

By peter w. | 20 July 2012 2:42 PM

Yes, it was, peter. We all contribute towards that 800,000 euros that they get from the government. I don't want it spent to promote bigotry and sexism.

By CW | 20 July 2012 3:09 PM

Great news! This sort of discrimination makes no sense nowadays, and a party under these conditions should not be allowed to exist.

By José Pedro Magalhães | 20 July 2012 3:19 PM

The previous writer (peter w) misses the point. If political parties succeed in discriminating against a certain section of the public then they are doing the same as the Nazi party did in Germany.

By peter alt | 20 July 2012 3:41 PM

Did a *man* just ask if this ruling was really necessary? Seriously? Well, your question tells me all I need to know about how much you care about women's rights. SMH

By Sharon | 20 July 2012 3:45 PM

Personally, I am offended at the concept of "strict" Christianity. Nothing in Jesus life or teachings portrayed strictness as desirable or valuable. Fundamentalism, in the form of literal biblical interpretation, is largely a 19th century phenomenon, and totally at odds with Jesus himself and Christian tradition.

By Earl | 20 July 2012 4:21 PM

Appenzell Inner Rhodes the smallest canton of Switzerland was the last Swiss canton to grant women the vote on local issues, in 1991. It’s never been the same since.

By Terence Hale | 20 July 2012 4:22 PM

Absolutely the best news of the day. So-called rights based on religious freedom hold back the human species for almost two millennia. Slowly but clearly moving forward to remove the smell of stupidity out of the furniture. Perfect!!

By Leon Vlug | 20 July 2012 4:56 PM

@peter w. Women that are OK with having a secondary role in society, like Muslim or Christians, will accept running for Parliament with SGP.

By geldrop | 20 July 2012 4:56 PM

Glad to hear it. And btw. maybe because some women share their views? And what about protecting the rights of women here? And why should we allow this kind of stuff anyway? Nothing wrong with this.

By B. v.d. Burg | 20 July 2012 4:57 PM

If a woman would want to play a political part then she does not belong to this party and she should join a party that equally satisfies her faith as well as her political views

By roelie haveman | 20 July 2012 5:16 PM

The big question is this: why is almost a million of our taxpayers money going to fund these religious zealots?

By osita | 20 July 2012 6:07 PM

There should not be any religious affiliations in government. What people do within their own religious circles doesn't concern me, but I don't want them dictating how a country is ruled.

By Al | 20 July 2012 6:50 PM

Any sort of religious zealot is a dangerous one. Anyone who takes the bible literally is laughed at by theologians,who long ago agreed it is not intended to be taken as such. Our governments should be purely secular to ensure everyone's personal rights to religious freedom. The "christians" are attacking women's rights here in the USA and it's insane what they say/do! They defy science, and seem bent on returning society to the Dark Ages. Sad and narrow minded folks.

By Lisette | 20 July 2012 7:41 PM

Agree with Jose Magalhaes a party like this should not get any support from the government and should be banned and dismissed to the dust bin of history

By AlMorr | 20 July 2012 8:44 PM

The Bible was (until the King James translation) taught only in Latin for very good reason - people would see how silly it was. Such silliness is exemplified by religious woman wanting to stand for a party that wants to ban their participation. Oxymoronic behaviour indeed, but utterly hypocritical too.

By glenn_uk | 21 July 2012 1:17 AM

Religious freedom should be scrapped and left to rot in the rubbish dust bins of history, it's based on nothing but myth & is extremely dangerous.

Of course women should have equal rights however we should not pretend that Males & Females are the same, we are obviously different in many aspects & naturally have different roles to play. I say let men be men & girls be girls!

By Phil | 21 July 2012 2:41 AM

lets keep occupying our time with ridiculous nonsense about religion instead of, like, something to do with the real world.... keep voting for the religious loonies nl, it pays the bills dontcha know?! (that includes the vvd free market fundamentalists and the american religious fundamentalist funded pvv... blind faith = economic jackpot beyond wildest dreams as histoery so vividly tells us!

By michiel | 21 July 2012 3:17 AM

"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." Well, that says it all about this party, doesn't it? Equality is the basis of any freedom.

By Lola | 21 July 2012 10:11 AM

I say let individuals be individuals, Phil. And let them choose the role they want to play. Many don't conform to gender stereotypes, just as many don't conform to racial or national ones.

By CW | 21 July 2012 2:12 PM

I don't get it. If you are a woman, and agree to the "different roles" the SGP proposes for men and women in society, then applying for MP-ship would be the last thing you would do, wouldn't it?

However, imposing a non-religious interpretation of gender onto the complete society, would be imposing atheist laws. Let's not forget that this is a belief too (much like not acting is a kind of acting too). So this issue is worth debating, in court as well as in public.

Scrapping religious freedoms, as some people here seem to suggest, would be imposing your own (non) beliefs upon everyone, which would be totally unacceptable in any democracy. I don't think this is very debatable.

By Martin | 22 July 2012 2:36 AM

We humans have created religions that have justified for thousand of years to take away human rights from women. Based on nothing more then 'gender'.
There is a saying" if you want to be a leader, you must become a servant to others first". Those words when followed, would take away the need to dominate others.

By Melody | 22 July 2012 9:25 AM

extremely hypocritical approach from Dutchnews not surprisingly yet again.Your comments are open for this article but close for so many Islamic articles which you strangely covet,are you in line to see houris?

By niobe | 23 July 2012 8:23 AM

Not sure what the SGP was trying to achieve - women who believe in what the party stands for are still free not to stand for MP role . . .

By Peter van der Schagt | 23 July 2012 4:49 PM

@niobe - I support DutchNews's policy in allowing only a few articles to be debated. Before, many more articles than now were open to comments, more than once allowing debates to be hijacked by a few muslim bashers, even in topics that didn't have anything to do with muslims. DutchNews is simply trying to prevent debates from getting out of hand, I'd say.

Commenters on this page may very well owe this policy to themselves.

By Martin | 24 July 2012 12:42 AM

remarkable posts here. It is as if most no one actually read the article. Here is the point:
The Party "...has lost its efforts to stop women from becoming MPs on its behalf." I find it amazing that people here feel the need to have a court outside of the Netherlands tell them who m they are allowed to vote for and whom they are not allowed to vote for. Kind of removes the point of having people being responsible for their own governance. Again, read the article. The ruling is not about trying to ban all women from Dutch Parliament. You do not seem to trust the Dutch people on their own to vote "properly".

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By fake rolex | 27 July 2012 5:35 PM

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