Fundamentalist Christian party may allow women MPs – on paper

The fundamentalist Protestant party SGP is considering allowing women to stand for political office, on paper at least, the party chairman said on Thursday.

The Dutch supreme court and European Court of Human Rights earlier ordered the party to give women the right to stand as MPs and councillors.
Party chairman Maarten van Leeuwen told the Reformatorisch Dagblad the party may remove the legal obstacle to women taking political office but that it remains of the opinion women should not be involved in politics.
The party is due to take a formal decision by the end of December.
A change of heart by the SGP, which has three MPs and believes the Netherlands should be governed by Biblical principles, would not automatically mean the party would field female candidates.
Not only is it unlikely the party elders would select a female candidate, but it remains doubtful any SGP women would support the move either, experts said.
The European Court said in its ruling in July ‘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.
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