VVD drops support for end to ban on blasphemy ahead of senate vote

The ruling Liberal party (VVD) has withdrawn its support for legislation which would end the ban on blasphemy, in what is being widely seen as a concession to the fundamentalist Christian SGP ahead of Monday’s senate vote.

The VVD-led coalition may fall one seat short of a majority in the senate on Monday, and the SGP – which opposes votes for women and says homosexuality is a sin – is seen as the most likely party to help the alliance to a 38th seat.
Boris van der Ham, an MP for the Liberal democratic party D66, made the VVD’s u-turn public in a television news show on Saturday. The SGP’s current senator Gerrit Holdijk told the same show that this sort of action would allow the cabinet to count on the SGP’s support ‘but not without criticism’.
According to the Telegraaf, junior justice minister Fred Teeven, who helped Van der Ham draw up the draft legislation while an opposition MP, told Holdijk personally that his party is no longer a signatory to the bill. The legislation was introduced in 2009.
VVD MP Art van der Steur, defended the decision to withdraw support, saying the party believes it is more useful to take a broad look at the issue of freedom of speech and politicians.
Van der Ham described the decision as ‘unheard of, astonishing and disappointing’ and questioned the party’s commitment to Liberal principles.
Earlier, the VVD did a u-turn on efforts to reform the Sunday shopping laws which prime minister Mark Rutte admitted at the time was a concession to the fundamentalist Christians.
The SGP believes the Netherlands should be governed according to Biblical principles and has two seats in the lower house of parliament.
On Monday, the 566 provincial councillors will cast their votes in the election for the 75 seat senate. The VVD, Christian Democrat and anti-Islam PVV alliance is likely to fall one seat short of a majority. The SGP is likely to win one seat.
The SGP has asked the European court of human rights to uphold its ban on women becoming MPs under freedom of religion rules.
Earlier stories
No Sunday shopping change is a concession to the SGP, says Rutte
PVV vote against Sunday shopping to keep SGP sweet.
Minister waits for European verdict on SGP
SGP want Europe to rule on women MPs

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