Amsterdam is getting ready for its twentieth Gay Pride canal parade. The capital’s waterways will once again be a showcase for freedom and tolerance. Not only is it the best party in the world, it is also a celebration of the city’s great historical tradition of allowing people to be themselves, whoever they are and whomever they love.
We should be proud of a city that was the first to welcome marriage between same-sex partners. This Gay Pride marks yet another step in the emancipation of gays which started in Amsterdam. But more can be done to make Amsterdam and the Netherlands the gay capital of the world: give gay couples from all over the globe the opportunity of tying the knot in the Netherlands.
There’s plenty to celebrate. In many countries the emancipation of gays is progressing apace. The United States now forbids the discrimination of LHBTs, and gays in all 50 states now have the right to marry.
Even in conservative Ireland a referendum has made same-sex marriages possible. But there are still many countries in which acceptance of homosexuality is far from being a reality and where gays and lesbians are being denied even the most basic of rights, some by law but mostly by a society which will only tolerate relationships between men and women.
Many couples from countries such as these would like to celebrate their love by getting married. The Netherlands could help by letting LHBT couples get hitched in Holland. At the moment the law stipulates that one of the partners must have the Dutch nationality, or reside in the country. That, in our opinion, is a missed opportunity.
By allowing foreign LHBT couples to get married in the Netherlands we would stimulate the worldwide acceptance of marriage for everyone. ‘Wedding tourism’ would once again put our country at the forefront of the emancipation of LHBTs, with Amsterdam as the gay capital of the world.
Opening up the right to marry to people from all over the world would be of great symbolic significance but it would be more than that. In some cases it could help the legal situation of foreign LHBT couples.
A court in Italy, where gay marriage hasn’t been legalised yet, recently recognised the status of a couple who got married in the United States, with all the rights this entailed. LHBT couples from Poland and other countries are contemplating doing the same and hope the case will serve as a precedent in their courts.
The United Nations have been busy as well. In July 2014 the UN secretary general changed his staff policy to recognise all marriages, even if the member of staff’s home country does not allow same-sex marriages. That means that if two German or Chinese women were to get married, the UN would regard them as a married couple, even if Germany and China are still sitting on the fence.
Little by little, same-sex marriages are being recognised throughout the world. As far as D66 is concerned the introduction of ‘wedding tourism’ will make Amsterdam the champion of the right of gays and lesbians to marry. We want to improve the legal position of LHBTs worldwide, and simply give people in love a chance to get married.
Let’s give really open up the institution of marriage to everybody. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if LHBT couples from all over the world would not only come here to take part in Gay Pride but also to celebrate their love by getting married?
Jan Paternotte is the chairman of the Amsterdam branch of D66 and Sjoerd Sjoerdsma is a D66 MP.
This article appeared earlier in the Volkskrant