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MPs vote to stop civil servants refusing to carry out gay weddings

Tuesday 15 November 2011

MPs voted on Tuesday afternoon for a change in the law to prevent civil servants refusing to conduct gay marriages. It is thought to be the first time the government has been defeated in an important parliamentary vote.

Under current legislation, registrars can refuse to carry out a gay wedding if they are opposed on religious grounds. The cabinet has argued that as long as gay couples can get married in every local authority area, opt-outs should be allowed.

But opposition MPs say this is institutionalised discrimination and want a change in the law. Although the anti-Islam PVV is sympathetic to this position, the party had been expected to vote against it because of its alliance with the minority cabinet.


Gay rights organization COC Nederland welcomed the vote. ‘We expect the cabinet will now get on with it and work fast to ban Dutch civil servants from discrimination while practising their jobs,' chairwoman Vera Bergkamp told news agency ANP.

According to COC research, 58 local councils employ a total of 102 registrars who refuse to marry same sex couples. Nearly all are fundamentalist Christians.

It is not yet clear what the implications of Tuesday's vote are.

The cabinet had hoped to head off a vote on the issue by referring it to the Council of State advisory body for its opinion. This was partly a gesture to the fundamentalist Christian party SGP, which regards homosexuality as a sin. The coalition relies on SGP support in the upper house of parliament.

© DutchNews.nl

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