Subsidy for SGP despite ban on women MPs

Fundamentalist Christian party SGP will get government subsidies after all, despite its ban on women becoming party officials or MPs, the country’s highest appeal court announced on Wednesday.

Dutch political parties are partly subsidised by the taxpayer, depending on how many MPs they have.
The SGP, which currently has two MPs, lost its subsidy in 2005 when a lower court ruled that the party’s ban on women conflicted with equal rights leglislation. The party reportedly received some €800,000 a year.
The SGP believes that the country should be governed ‘entirely on the basis of the ordinances of God as revealed in the Holy Scriptures’ and therefore women should not play an active role in politics. It is also anti-homosexuality.
The Council of State, which is the country’s highest appeal court, said in its ruling that the importance of equal rights for men and women had to be weighed against the right of political parties to promote their views.
In addition, it said, there are other political parties across the entire political spectrum which do allow women to become MPs.
The SGP told ANP news service that it is ‘thankful and relieved’ with the decision. ‘The highest court in the country has said in black and white that the SGP keeps to the rules,’ said chairman Wim Kolijn.
The SGP had banned women from becoming party members until June 2006 when it bowed to outside pressure and allowed them to join.

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