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Gay-rights in The Netherlands: a warning for emancipation-fatigue

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Although the Netherlands is often considered one of the most gay-friendy nations in the world, as Lotte Kamphuis examines, not everyone there is completely satisfied.

In many ways the Netherlands has achieved a great deal when it comes to LGBT emancipation. It was the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage in 2001, Amsterdam was the world’s Gay Capital for a long time, and the Dutch government hands out a yearly LGBT Emancipation Innovation Award.

According to HP de Tijd, 83% of the Dutch would not have a problem if the Dutch king came out of the closet. 86% of the country is pro gay-marriage and 71% believe that gay couples should have the right to adopt kids.

But all is not well, argues Jet Bussemaker, the Dutch Minister for Education, Culture and Science, in a speech that is reported in student newspaper Folia. The Minister states that even though the majority of the Dutch believe in equality for homosexuals, sentiments might change.

What would be the role of the government should such a case occur? Should it change its policy according to the viewpoints of the majority? No, says Bussemakers, quoting Franklin Rooseveldt to underline her point of view: “No democracy can exist long if it doesn’t acknowledges the rights of minorities as fundamental to its existence.”

Dutch society last year showed their concerns with gay emancipation during the controversy surrounding Russia’s anti-homosexual legislation, writes student paper Universe. Recently, Russia’s Parliament has backed a bill that bans the ‘propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations’. This law attacks the right to freedom of expression for LGBT people.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Netherlands, large-scale protests were being organized. The plans for the Dutch king and prime-minister to visit the Olympic Games in Sochi were subjected to lengthy scrutiny, however did not ultimately lead to a boycott.

Bussemakers warns of emancipation-fatigue. Yes, gay people can embark on matrimony and have the same right as every other Dutchman, but violence against gays still occurs every week. “We must not allow ourselves to be blinded by successes in the past,” said the minister. “Any violation of an individual is a violation of our society.”


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