An amendment to the constitution that would outlaw discrimination on grounds of disability and sexual orientation has been delayed following a last-minute intervention by the right-wing PVV.
Geert Wilders’s party demanded a formal head count at the end of an all-day debate in the Senate, despite a clear majority being in favour of the move.
After several hours it became clear there were not enough senators in the chamber for a quorum, at which point the decision had to be postponed until the New Year.
Disability and equal rights activists, who have been campaigning for almost 20 years for the ban, said they were dismayed by the PVV’s intervention.
Philip Tijsma, spokesman for COC Nederland, said it was a ‘dreadful course of events’, but the organisation was still hopeful of a positive outcome when the vote takes place on January 17.
Er lijkt brede steun te zijn voor verankering van onze rechten in de Grondwet. Omdat er op het laatste moment een hoofdelijke stemming werd aangevraagd, vindt de stemming nu plaats op 17 januari. We gaan voor een mooi resultaat begin 2023! pic.twitter.com/LEI7KT8H8S
— COC Nederland (@COCNederland) December 20, 2022
Amendments to the Dutch constitution are difficult to achieve, as a two-thirds majority of both houses must vote twice in favour of the motion, either side of a general election. Tuesday’s vote was the final hurdle, after the Senate endorsed the amendment by 59 votes to 16 in February 2021.
The ban would extend Article 1, which forbids discrimination on grounds of religion, political orientation, sex or race. Wilders has campaigned in the past to abolish Article 1 because it conflicts with his party’s plans to close mosques and restrict Islamic activities.
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