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The Netherlands

Thou Shalt Not Discriminate Against Women: Public Subsidies to Religious Parties Condemned in Clara Wichmann foundation v. The Dutch State. Court of First Instance, The Hague. Judgment of 7 September 2005

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 March 2006


The court in this case decided that state subsidy to political parties that discriminate against women is prohibited by international treaties, notably the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

This raises a number of issues. Where the discrimination is for religious reasons, does sex equality need to be balanced against religious freedom? Both are usually seen as fundamental rights. What about discrimination against men, in favour of women; is that also against the law? Finally, is the obligation not to discriminate only binding on the state, or also on the party itself? Could such a party be banned from politics? Some of these issues were touched on by the court, although not convincingly, and some of them, such as religious freedom, were scandalously ignored.

Case Notes
Asser Press 2006

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