MPs want to change Dutch constitution to protect gay and handicapped

Image of Dutch parliament. Photo: Sisyfus via Wikimedia

A majority of MPs back changing Article 1 of the Dutch constitution to explicitly mention gay people and the handicapped.

Article 1 of the constitution enshrines equality before the law and states that ‘discrimination on grounds of religion, belief, political persuasion, race, sex and all other grounds is not permitted’.

A private members’ bill introduced by Labour, D66 and GroenLinks would expand this section of the constitution to mention the’ handicapped and heterosexual or homosexual orientation’.

‘Tolerance and acceptance can no longer be taken as read,’ D66 MP Vera Bergkamp said. ‘Explicit inclusion in the constitution offers special protection.’

The move, which is also backed by the Socialists, ChristenUnie and the Christian Democrats, is not supported by the ruling VVD. Parliamentary leader Halbe Zijlstra  told the Volkskrant that he would support a Dutch version of the American ‘all men are created equal’, and remove all mention of different categories.

A change in the constitution requires two rounds of voting in both houses of parliament. In the second vote, the change needs to be approved by a two-thirds majority.

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