Fine couples who first enter into religious marriage: Dutch MPs

A legislative proposal submitted by the VVD and GroenLinks wants to fine people who enter into a religious marriage, specifically an Islamic marriage, before they are legally married. By tightening the rules, the parties hope to prevent women being left without options if there is a divorce, NOS reports.

"We should not create a kind of parallel society in which Islamic law takes precedence over Dutch law", VVD parliamentarian Jeroen van Wijngaarden said to NOS. Under Dutch law, it is already possible to fine a religious leader if he marries a couple before they are legally married. "Yet some imams ignore the rules", Van Wijngaarden said. 

Van Wijngaarden and his GroenLinks colleague Kathalijne Buitenweg therefore want to extend the fine to also include the people who got married and the witnesses. 

The VVD parliamentarian emphasized that if someone is first married by law, various safeguards apply. These can be circumvented if a couple is first or only religiously married. For example, the law states that the partners must be at least 18 years old and that a person can only be married to one other person. 

The VVD, GroenLinks and CDA are also working on a second legislative proposal that will make it easier to dissolve religious marriages.