Netherlands amends constitution to ban sexual orientation-based discrimination

Advocacy groups called the change to the constitution a “historic victory” for LGBTQ+ folks and people with disabilities in the Netherlands.

Flag of Netherlands, where the constitution has been amended to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and disability.
Image: Via Twitter - João Guimarães

The Netherlands will amend its constitution to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and disability.

On Tuesday, January 17, the Dutch parliament approved an amendment to Article 1 of the constitution which will make protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and disability explicit in the text. In the Netherlands, the constitution already forbade discrimination based on religion, philosophy, political preference, race, gender, “or any other grounds”.

The amendment, approved with a 56-15 vote, is the culmination of a year-long process started by the coalition party D66 and the left-wing opposition parties PvdA and GroenLinks. Now, it will only need to be signed by King William Alexander and finally approved by the government.

“You can rightly call this day historic,” commented D66 Member of Parliament Alexander Hammelburg. Member of PvdA party Habtamu de Hoop also welcomed the news, saying: “A disability, or who you fall in love with, should never be a reason to be excluded”.

Advocacy groups all over the country have also celebrated the change, calling it a “historic victory” for LGBTQ+ folks and disabled people. Astrid Oosenbrug, Chair of LGBTQ+ organisation COC Nederland, said: “LGBTI rights are finally proudly mentioned in Article 1 and are no longer hidden”.

“And being enshrined in the Constitution is a guarantee that we will still be able to enjoy our hard-won rights in fifty or a hundred years’ time,” Oosenbrug continued. “That we will still be able to marry, raise children, and be protected against discrimination. Even if the political or social winds unexpectedly shift against the rainbow community.”

In a statement published online, Ieder(in), an umbrella organisation for people with disabilities, said it was “a historic day for the disability movement”. The statement also read: “The government has been given an additional task to permanently improve and strengthen the position of people with a disability not only in law, but also in practice”.

The Netherlands has proven to be committed to the protection of the rights of its LGBTQ+ citizens for a long time. More than 20 years ago, the country became the first in the world to legalise same-sex marriage.

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