Dutch senators on Tuesday voted in favour of including an explicit ban on discrimination on the grounds of disability or sexual orientation in the constitution – 12 years after the change was first mooted.
Tuesday’s is the second senate vote on the issue and clears the way for the constitution to be formally amended.
Alterations to the Dutch constitution require votes in two separate cabinet and upper house periods and the second vote must involve a two-thirds majority. Tuesday’s vote was 56 to 15 with the three far right parties and fundamentalist Christian SGP voting against.
Article 1 of the Dutch constitution currently forbids discrimination on the grounds of religious or personal belief, political affinity, race, sex and ‘all other grounds’.
However, campaign groups and some political parties had urged parliament for years to anchor a ban on discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and disability in law.
‘You can call this a historic day,’ D66 parliamentarian Alexander Hammelburg, one of the motion signatories, said in a reaction.
Illya Soffer, director of disability campaign group Ieder(in), told news website NU.nl. Ieder(in) the change ‘gives the government an extra task in continually improving and strengthening the position of people with a disability, in practice as well as in law.’
In addition, the change will increase awareness of the issue, which is necessary to make sure society is accessible to everyone, Soffer said.
The change is a guarantee that rights will not be eroded in the future, Philip Tijsma from LGBTI+ rights campaign group, told RTL Nieuws.
‘The rights of LGBTI people can no longer be changed – such as the right to marry and adopt children,’ he said. ‘You can see in other countries how the wind has changed direction and hate is increasing.’
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