This issue contains 4 sections.
Equal rights for LGBTs
In the Netherlands, lesbian women, gay men, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBTs) still do not enjoy the same rights as heterosexuals. For example, it is still difficult for transgender people to gain official recognition of sex changes and hard for lesbian co-mothers to become children’s legal parents. The government intends to eliminate these differences.
Improvements in the legal position of LGBTs
Over the past decade, the legal position of the Dutch LGBT community has greatly improved. Since 2 March 1994 it has been illegal to discriminate against LGBTs and since 1998 same-sex couples have been able to enter into registered partnerships. The Netherlands was the first country to institute same-sex marriage (on 1 April 2001) and married same-sex couples can now adopt children in this country.
Measures to improve the legal position of LGBTs
Despite these improvements in their legal rights, LGBTs still face inequalities. The government aims to reduce these further by taking the following measures:
- Cracking down on anti-LGBT violence
Violence aggravated by discrimination on whatever grounds will be punished with particular severity and the police will give priority to its investigation. Since 1 June 2011, the Public Prosecution Service has been demanding double the normal penalty in such cases of violence.
- Improving the position of lesbian parents
At least 25,000 children in the Netherlands are being brought up by same-sex parents. The government wants these children to have the same rights as those born of heterosexual relationships. To achieve this, the government has submitted a bill on lesbian parenthood to the House of Representatives. The bill is designed to remove the necessity for a lesbian to go to court to become the legal parent of her same-sex partner’s children.
- Family formation and family reunification for same-sex couples
The coalition agreement states that family migration will be limited to partners who are married or in a registered partnership, and to children who are minors. However, the government does not wish to place gay and lesbian couples at a disadvantage in this respect. The problem is that, in many other countries, same-sex marriage or registered partnership is not an option. The government is seeking a solution that will ensure equal rights regarding family formation and family reunification.
- Mutual recognition of registered partnerships and marriages
The government will seek mutual and bilateral recognition of registered partnerships and marriages within the European Union, so that same-sex and heterosexual couples (and their children) are free to enjoy their rights of unobstructed freedom of movement and residence in EU member countries.
- Opportunity for gay men to donate blood
In the Netherlands, men who have had sex with other men are not permitted to donate blood, whereas in some other EU countries (Italy, Portugal, Spain and Sweden) they are permitted to do so subject to certain conditions. The government will work with the Sanquin Blood Supply Foundation to see whether gay men can also be accepted as blood donors in the Netherlands. The safety of blood product recipients will, however, be paramount.
- Simpler procedures for changing gender designations
At present, it is difficult for transgender people to get their gender designation changed in official documents. For this reason, the government wishes both to get rid of the sterilisation requirement for changes to gender designations in birth certificates and to make it easier to change gender designations on educational diplomas. To achieve this, it has prepared a Gender Recognition Bill and on 13 September 2011 sought the views of a wide range of bodies – including the Council for the Judiciary, the Advisory Committee on Civil Status and Nationality Issues and the Dutch Transgender Network – on this draft legislation.