European Court to Christian Political Party: You Have to Allow Women in Your Party to Run for Public Office

The Staatkundig Gereformeerde Partij (SGP) is a Dutch political party known for its fundamentalist Christian beliefs. The SGP didn’t support women’s suffrage a long time ago and, more recently, they didn’t allow women to become a Member of Parliament on behalf of their party.

The SGP professes the absolute authority of the Word of God over all areas of societal life. The SGP rejects the idea of absolute equality of human beings, which it sees as false teaching of the French Revolution. In essence, the SGP believes that, although all human beings are of equal value as God’s creatures, differences in nature, talents and place in society should be recognised. Scripture (in particular 1 Corinthians 11:3)’ teaches that men and women have different roles in society. Thus, women are not inferior to men as human beings; but unlike men, women should not be eligible for public office.

Got that? Women are equal to men… they just can’t do the stuff men are allowed to do. #ChristianLogic

It wasn’t until 2006 that women were allowed to become members of the SGP party — but they still couldn’t run for public office.

So that leads to the question at hand: Does the state have a right to force the SGP to allow women to run for office?

The SGP said no — they felt that their freedom of religion was superior to any equal rights legislation. Not to mention women could always run for office — they just had to do it through another political party.

Today, after a lengthy court battle, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the SGP must change its ways or risk losing their two seats (in the 150-seat Dutch Parliament) and €800,000 they get from the government each year. (You can read the ruling in English here (PDF).)

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.’

Good decision by the ECHR.

The bigger question may be why any woman would want to run for office as a representative of this party… and who the hell is voting for the SGP?

(Thanks to Klaas for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Glasofruix

    In many european countries there are laws of gender equality/parity in politics. If a party wants to hold some political importance there’s a an imposed quota of female politicians to have. In Belgium for examle during elections the lists have to include at least half female candidates.

  • The Other Weirdo

    False teaching of the French Revolution? You mean, all people are absolutely equal except for those people over there who are about a head’s length too tall?

    • Stev84

      The French Revolution was also very anti-clerical. Violently so. No surprise they don’t like that

  • Guest

    I’m not worried about religion in Dutch politics. Recently, someone got loudly snickered in parliament for saying that “And I believe that if everyone read the bible, the Netherlands would be a better place.” 

  • Pepe

    They HAVE 2 seats?!

  • Dan Dorfman

    Should we start calling this party the MiniEqual, a la 1984? Some doublethink going on here, or equality in the SGP sense.
    EQUALITY IS INTOLERANCE
    DISCRIMINATION IS RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

  • Wotan Anubis

    People are surprised the SGP got seats in Parliament?

    Look, the Netherlands may not be as bad as the States fundamentalism-wise, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a tiny Bible Belt of our own (heck, Staphorst is reasonably well-known for being ‘that village with all those ludicrously devout Protestants’).

    And, you know, fundamentalists are allowed to vote, too.

  • George

    I have to disagree with the court here. Holding a wrong world view is also a right. If they do not want women in their party, they should not be forced to have them. They should be made fun of, lose their voters and fail to be in the Parliament, but not by law.

  • anon101

    I think
    that ruling is wrong because interfering with the inner matters of
    parties in a democracy should be very sparse. One should remember
    that this is the same court that said that putting up crosses in
    Italian classrooms was legal, that banning incest was legal, and that
    stripping biological fathers of most of their rights was legal, too.
    A long list of wrong judgments.

  • http://profiles.google.com/janiceclanfield Janice Clanfield

    So what about they gays? Are political parties which exclude gays going to be brought into the 21st century and be told that they need to allow gay candidates too?
    Equality is a nice thing you know…

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    Why would a woman even want to be associated with this party? Very odd. It’s like a Jew fighting for the right to join the Nazi party, or a black getting the courts to force the KKK to accept him as a member.

    There’s a weird dissonance here I can’t quite wrap my head around.

    • Wotan Anubis

       Men aren’t the only ones to buy into all that Bible-based patriarchal bullshit, you know. ‘Because God Said So’ can be a persuasive argument to some.

      • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

        I get that. I have no problem with a woman who buys into patriarchy. But why would a woman who believes such a thing want to assume a leadership role here? She either believes in what the party represents, and therefore ought to be at home, barefoot and pregnant, or she doesn’t, and ought to be out promoting a competing party.

    • machintelligence

      There are now black Mormons, although why, I can’t imagine.


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