20 years ago today, the Netherlands became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage

On April 1, 2001, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage. Since then, 20,000 same-sex couples have said their vows.

More than 19,000 men and almost 21,000 women in the Netherlands are married to someone of the same sex. Out of these people, 1,400 men and 1,100 women walked down the aisle in 2001, reports Statistics Netherlands.

The first married gay couples

Gert Kasteel and Dolf Pasker were one of the first gay couples to ever get legally married. Today, they celebrate their 20th anniversary.

“It’s nicer to say to other people ‘he’s my husband, he’s my man,’” Dolf tells Reuters

However, even though same-sex marriage has been legal for 20 years now in the Netherlands, about a quarter of couples who formalize their relationship still choose to enter a registered partnership instead. 

Most gay marriages are in Amsterdam

While Amsterdam wasn’t always a safe haven for gay people, it now has the biggest share of same-sex marriages, with 45 in every 1,000 married couples being gay. This is followed by Nijmegen and Arnhem. 

But unfortunately, not all of the Netherlands is tolerant towards the LGBTQ community. The share of same-sex marriages is especially lower in the so-called Bible Belt — an area running from the province of Zeeland, across South Holland, Utrecht, and Gelderland all the way to Overijssel, where many Orthodox Protestants live. 

How will you be celebrating this anniversary? Do you think the Netherlands still has a long way to go to be fully tolerant of the LGBTQ community? Tell us in the comments!

Feature Image: Wallace Araujo/Pexels

Jana Vondráčková
Jana Vondráčková
Originally from the Czech Republic, Jana moved to the Netherlands for her studies. She fell in love with the local biking culture, and you’ll see her drifting through the streets of Rotterdam on her pink bike even in the worst possible weather (think rain, snow, hail, or all three). Besides advocating for Rotterdam as the best Dutch city, she likes to wander around with a camera in her hand.


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