1 April 2011 marks the 10th anniversary of the legalization of same-sex marriage (homohuwelijk) in the Netherlands.
Although Denmark was the first country to recognize same-sex unions (called registered partnerships
and legalized in 1989), the Netherlands was the first country
to make same-sex civil marriages legally equal to civil marriages between couples of the opposite sex.
This was done by changing Book 1 of the Burgerlijk Wetboek[NL]
(the Dutch Civil Code) via a bill called the Wet Openstelling huwelijk[NL]
. This bill modified Article 30[NL]
of the Civil Code, which now reads: Een huwelijk kan worden aangegaan door twee personen van verschillend of van gelijk geslacht.
to: A marriage can be contracted by two persons of different or the same sex.
The bill was championed by people such as Henk Krol[NL]
, founder of gay magazine De Gay Krant[NL]
; Boris Dittrich
, a then-MP who is now the Advocacy Director for the Human Rights Watch's LGBT Program
; and Job Cohen
, then the junior Minister of Justice, and later the mayor of Amsterdam.
The bill passed the Tweede Kamer
(the House of Representatives) with a vote of 109-33, and was approved by the Eerste Kamer
(the Senate) on 19 December 2000.
The law went into effect on 1 April 2001. At midnight, Mayor Cohen married four couples[NL, warm-fuzzy-inducing]
Since then, 14,813 same-sex couples have married
, making up less than 2% of all Dutch marriages. However, same-sex couples account for only 1% of all divorces.
Only 20% of the 55,000 homosexual couples in the Netherlands are married, as opposed to 80% of the 4.1 million heterosexual couples
. Why? It could be because of legal difficulties that same-sex couples face when they want to adopt children.
Like straight couples, more and more gay couples are opting for registered partnerships
, which have been an option for couples of any gender since 1998. Unlike a marriage, a registered partnership can be annulled without a court decision
, along with a few other differences[PDF]
, particularly when it comes to parentage.
The constituent countries
of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
—Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten—do not allow same-sex marriages
to be performed within their borders. However, they must recognize marriages that are registered in the Kingdom, regardless of gender.
The city of Amsterdam will celebrate gay marriage in several ways:
If you're in Amsterdam and want to learn about more gay goings-on, you can visit the Pink Point
information centre, located next to the Homomonument
and the Westerkerk
(around the corner from the Anne Frank House
And in somewhat related news, 2011 will be the first time that officially-sanctioned, uniformed Dutch soldiers will join Amsterdam's Gay Pride Canal Parade.