Gay Netherlands Antilles News & Reports

1 Religious groups call rally to oppose same-sex marriage 6/04

2 In St. Maarten Two Men Attacked Because They’re Gay 4/06

3 Caribbean can be chilly when it comes to welcoming gays 11/07

4 Gay Marriage Coming To The Netherlands Antilles 9/10

5 The Netherlands: Transgender Law Violates Rights 9/11

June 3, 2004 –

Religious groups call rally to oppose same-sex marriage in Dutch Caribbean territories

Religious groups have called a rally in St. Maarten for June 13 to oppose same-sex marriage in Dutch Caribbean territories. The rally is set to happen three days before a court is scheduled to rule on the matter. Two men filed a lawsuit last year in a Netherlands Antilles court when the government of Curacao refused to recognize their marriage. They were married in 2002 in the Netherlands, where same-sex marriage is legal. Laws of Dutch Caribbean territories define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, but the court is being asked to rule on whether same-sex marriages in the Netherlands can also be registered in the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba. The court is scheduled to rule on the matter June 16.

Netherlands Antilles, representing 250,000 people, includes Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, St. Eustatius, and St. Maarten. About 70,000 people live in Aruba, an autonomous Dutch territory. "Homosexuality is a human phenomenon," said Chester Peterson, the attorney for the two men. "It’s normal." Both the Dutch attorney general and the high court’s president at The Hague have advised that the marriages should be recognized, but the Curacao-based Netherlands Antilles government has refused, saying the ruling doesn’t take into account the island’s culture.

Aruba’s justice minister, Rudy Croes, said the territories should not be forced to recognize same-sex marriages. Protestant churches have scheduled their June 13 rally at St. Maarten University. The Netherlands, Belgium, Canada’s three most populous provinces, and the U.S. state of Massachusetts are the only places in the world where gay couples can legally marry.

April 8, 2006 – (CBS4 News) CBS Broadcasting Inc.

In St. Maarten Two Men Attacked Because They’re Gay

Rescue Transfered Victims To A Miami Hospital–Both Victims Work For CBS Television

by Dave Malkoff, Miami
Two employees from the CBS family, including a senior news producer, were transferred to Jackson Memorial Hospital this week after reportedly falling victims to a gay bashing attack in the Caribbean vacation island of St. Maarten.
Richard Jefferson, who was vacationing in St. Maarten, was rushed with his friend Ryan Smith to the St. Maarten Medical Center around 3:30am Thursday after suffering a beating at the hands of some men who called themselves “gay bashers”. Smith, also an employee for CBS, suffered the worst injuries. He has a fractured skull and has not been able to speak properly since the incident. Jefferson is able to walk, though he sustained severe cuts on the back of his head and his lower back.

Witnesses say the group of friends were first threatened inside Bamboo Bernies – a popular restaurant and night club spot – by the group of suspects. The management was concerned enough with the threats that they offered the Americans an escort before they left in case they were carried out. However, after the two men left, they were approached by the same group of suspects, consisting of four men and two women, in a car. That is when they were reportedly beaten with a wheel wrench or metal pipe. Despite contacting police on the island to file a report, the men claim they didn’t even get a follow-up call from them. Management at Bamboo Bernies and the Sunset Bar both called police but did not get a response. The men were walking in front of Sunset Bar when the attack occurred.

An air ambulance has since transferred the two victims to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Intensive care unit in Miami. Jefferson told St. Maarten’s “The Daily Herald” that he found it hard to call a place he had been visiting for 15 years “a friendly island anymore."

"They took up a chair at one stage and tried to hit us with it," one of Jefferson’s friends told the Herald, as he explained the original threat they had received inside Bamboo Bernies. Jefferson said he had not been involved in the original threatening incident, as he had been on his way to meet with the others at the time.

November 10, 2007 –

Caribbean can be chilly when it comes to welcoming gays: Underground strong but some islands still sending mixed messages

by Julia Steinecke, Special to the Star
Netherlands Antilles–In St. Maarten, we criss-cross the island, searching in vain for a lesbian who will talk to me – though later I hear the cafés in Marigot are full of them. In Jamaica, some dance hall performers sing about shooting gay men in the head, pouring acid over them and raping lesbians. So far this year, 100 LGBT folk have reportedly been attacked in 43 mob incidents. Yet there’s a huge, lively underground scene. In Cuba, gays and lesbians can’t get permission to start their own advocacy organization. Meanwhile, the government is working on same-sex partnership recognition as well as free sex-change surgery and hormones on demand.

This is the Caribbean, with some of the most complex and least understood gay and lesbian destinations in the world. Some travellers write off the whole district as homophobic, forgetting that each island has a distinctive history and culture; each has a unique intersection of sexuality, race, and class. I visited three islands and spoke to residents, activists and tourism professionals. Over the next few months, Pink Planet will look at Curaçao, St. Maarten and Saba. In the meantime, here’s an overview of what else is happening in the region.

First, the bad news.
Some say that homophobia is worse on the islands colonized by Victorian-era England, or the islands with the least present-day European and American influence. I suspect it has more to do with economic resources and other social challenges. Jamaica, which struggles with a heavy foreign debt, large income gaps, and chronic unemployment, still enforces the old English laws against "buggery." Amnesty International is constantly reporting on mob violence and murder, including the attack earlier this year by a crowd of 200 on a pharmacy in Kingston that supposedly harboured four gay men. In September, the People’s National Party was elected, under the leadership of Bruce Golding, who has stated that he will provide "no solace" for gays and lesbians.

In fact, during his 2001 campaign, he used a song called Chi Chi Man which advocates the shooting and burning of gays. Through it all, Jamaican gays and lesbians meet and have fun together. Middle- and upper-class men drive in convoys to house parties in wealthy neighbourhoods. Promoters organize semi-public events at secret locations with high security. Playwright trey anthony, creator of Da Kink in my Hair, told that she visited the island recently and found a huge underground community – and she got picked up by a lot more women than on Toronto’s Church St.

More good news comes from places like San Juan, Puerto Rico, which has a gaybourhood with bars, guest houses, restaurants and stores. Pride has been celebrated there for more than a dozen years. In local politics, many gubernatorial candidates include LGBT rights in their platforms. Homosexuality was legalized in 2005, and assaults can now be prosecuted as hate crimes. The Puerto Rican island of Vieques is known as a gay getaway, with gay-owned accommodation.

Some islands of the Netherlands Antilles are promoting themselves as gay-friendly destinations, with Curaçao in the lead ( On the three Antilles I visited, local activists tried to convey the importance of discretion, a sort of "don’t ask, don’t tell" that was hard for me, as a Canadian, to understand. A very active and out resident of tiny Saba tried to explain how strange it is, even on his open-minded island, when a boat unloads 100 gay men who don’t always understand the low-key island culture. They’ve had better experiences with more seasoned travellers.

Cruise ships have been a sore point on many islands but acceptance is growing.
In 2005, gay passengers were prevented by a port official from disembarking on Nevis, but the Tourism Minister later expressed his regrets and reaffirmed the island’s welcome. In 2006, the Cayman Islands, which had turned down cruises for several years, admitted an Atlantis cruise with more than 3,000 on board. In the Bahamas, ships have encountered protesters, as well as an official on-board welcome from the Ministry of Tourism. In October 2007, Bahamian police raided an off-board party for the eighth annual Black Gay and Lesbian Pride Cruise. Police reportedly videotaped participants but no arrests were made.

A few days later the Tourism Director General sent a written apology to the event producers, stating that the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation is against all forms of discrimination. Cuba has come a long way since the 1959 revolution, when homosexuality was considered a sign of capitalist degradation. Legal reforms are being introduced by the government’s National Center of Sexual Education, headed by Mariela Castro Espin, (Raul Castro’s daughter and Fidel’s niece), who has publicly discussed the police harassment of gays and lesbians. Transsexual rights to name and identity document changes are already recognized. Change is coming, sometimes where we least expect it. Stay tuned for Pink Planet’s up-to-the-minute reports, starting with Curaçao.

September 18, 2010 – OnTop Magazine

Gay Marriage Coming To The Netherlands Antilles

by On Top Magazine Staff
Three former Dutch colonies are preparing to introduce gay marriage and adoption laws as they come under direct Dutch rule, Radio Netherlands reported.
The Netherlands Antilles, which consists of five small islands in the Caribbean Sea, are scheduled to be dissolved on October 10 and three of the islands are set to become special municipalities of the Netherlands.

The islands of Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatitus are expected to adopt Dutch law. The two largest islands, Curacao and Sint Maarten, are set to become independent states within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The islands of Curacao and Bonaire are located off the Venezuelan coast, while Sint Eustatius, Saba and Sint Maarten are located southeast of the Virgin Islands. In 1986, the island of Aruba seceded to become an autonomous part of the Netherlands.

Last week, the lower house of the Dutch Parliament approved a bill to legalize gay marriage and adoption for gay and lesbian couples by 2012 in the three socially conservative islands coming under Dutch control. The Senate is expected to act on the bill soon. The Netherlands was the first country to legalize gay marriage in 2000.

September 13, 2011 – Human Rights Watch

The Netherlands: Transgender Law Violates Rights
– Repeal Requirement for Irreversible Surgery to Change Official Gender

(Amsterdam) – The Dutch Civil Code violates the human rights of transgender people, and the government should amend it without delay, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The government should revise article 28 of the civil code, which requires transgender people to take hormones and undergo surgery to alter their bodies and be permanently and irreversibly sterilized before they can have their gender legally recognized on official documents Human Rights Watch said.

The 85-page report, “Controlling Bodies, Denying Identities: Human Rights Violations Against Trans People in the Netherlands,”documents the impact of a 1985 law, article 28 of the civil code, on the daily life of transgender people. The requirements violate transgender people’s rights to personal autonomy and physical integrity, and deny them the ability to define their own gender identity, Human Rights Watch said. The law should be amended to respect transgender people’s human rights by separating medical and legal questions for transgender people. Legal recognition of their gender identity should not be made conditional on any form of medical intervention, Human Rights Watch said.

“The Dutch law causes anguish for trans people who have not had the required surgery,” said Boris Dittrich, advocacy director in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. “Their documents do not match their deeply felt gender identity. This leads to frequent public humiliation, vulnerability to discrimination, and great difficulty finding or holding a job.”

Human Rights Watch interviewed 28 transgender people for the report, as well as medical professionals, legal experts, government officials, representatives of nongovernmental organizations, and academics. One transgender person interviewed by Human Rights Watch said about the law: “People are left dangling in between two worlds for far longer than is necessary. It is needlessly traumatizing for people who are already very vulnerable.” Another person summed up the objections to article 28 this way: “The state should stay out of our underwear.”

In 1985, the Netherlands was among the first European nations to adopt legislation enabling transgender people to change their registered gender. Over a quarter of a century later, though, the Netherlands has lost its leading edge, Human Rights Watch said. Legislation that at the time represented a progressive development is wholly out of step with current best practice and understandings of the Netherlands’ obligations under international human rights law. Several European countries like Portugal, the United Kingdom, and Spain have already done away with the surgical and hormonal requirements. As the law stands in the Netherlands, transgender people must undergo major surgery, requiring considerable recovery time, to change their official gender.

Transgender people’s rights to personal autonomy and physical integrity are protected by the Dutch constitution, subject to restrictions imposed by the law, as well as by several international human rights instruments ratified by the Netherlands, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights…

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