- Category: News
- Created on Tuesday, 12 June 2012 16:45
- Written by Amsterdam Herald
Although gay marriage was legalised in the Netherlands in 2001, at the moment registrars can refuse to preside over a same-sex wedding on grounds of conscience.
Ministers want to change the law, but believe the issue is a question of principle and should not be decided until a fully mandated government takes office after September's election.
Interior minister Liesbeth Spies said last week: ‘”It is for local authorities to make sure that they have a registrar in place who will authorise the marriage.”
However, three minor parties have backed a proposed law introduced by Gerard Schouw, of the left-liberal D66 party, which would force Parliament to debate the issue before September’s election.
A separate motion by the Labour Party (PvdA) calls for civil servants who refuse to marry same-sex couples to be fired or given other duties by the council.
The government has already sought advice on the issue from the Council of State, which said the policy could be amended without the need to change the law.
The right of civil servants not to lead same-sex wedding ceremonies was introduced in 2007 by the Christian Democrat (CDA)-led government of Jan Peter Balkenende.
Major cities such as Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Utrecht refused to implement the measure, which was seen as a concession to the Dutch bible belt.
In the first year that gay marriage was introduced more than 2,400 same-sex couples tied the knot. The number has since stabilized at around 1,200 a year.