Fundamentalist Christian party to allow women MPs – on paper

The fundamentalist Christian party SGP is to change its rules so that women are no longer automatically excluded from standing for political office, the party says on its website.

The revised rules, which still have to be approved by members, state that sex should no longer be a deciding factor when selecting candidates for parliament or local councils.
However, the SGP, which believes the Netherlands should be governed according to Biblical principles, will not alter its basic principles on different roles for men and women, the website states. This means women will still effectively be excluded from political functions.
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. The SGP has three seats in the 150-seat parliament.
The European Court said in its ruling last 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. It argued freedom of religion was more important than equal rights for men and women.
Women have been able to join the SGP as ‘extraordinary members’ since 1996 but so far none have done so, the NRC reported.
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