Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Gay Marriage Coming to The Netherlands Antilles | Gay Rights |

Gay Marriage Coming to The Netherlands Antilles | Gay Rights |

Ten years ago, The Netherlands was the first country to legalize same-sex marriage. Now three former Dutch colonies are assuming the same laws that give same-sex couples equal marriage and adoption rights. This news is pretty distinctive, considering that these islands are located in the Caribbean — usually considered one of the more homophobic regions of the world, where gays and lesbians are routinely victims of prejudice, violence and unjust laws.

The Netherlands Antilles consist of five islands in the Caribbean Sea. On October 10th, the two largest islands, Curacao and Sint Maarten, are set to become independent states within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The other three islands are adopting Dutch law as they become special municipalities of the Netherlands. Thus, gay marriage and adoption will become legal on the islands of Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatitus.

The Lower House of the Dutch Parliament approved a bill last week that will legalize gay marriage and adoption in these three states by 2012. Though they are under Dutch rule (or will be, at least), these exotic locales are actually very socially conservative islands. The three of them combined have a population of only 20,000.

Many residents hold strong religious beliefs that contradict Dutch laws on issues like abortion, euthanasia and, yes, same-sex marriage. It will be interesting to see if these new laws can change these views and the attitude toward gays in the Caribbean in general. At the very least, there will soon be three new destination wedding alternatives for the gay and lesbian marrying-kind.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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