Article 1 of the Dutch Constitution deals with discrimination, specifically with the kinds ofdiscrimination that are explicitly forbidden. Currently, it outlaws discrimination on the groundsof religion, political beliefs, race and gender; on June 30th, however, the first step was takento include sexual orientation and disability to that list.
A supportive Parliament
The main LGBTQ+ organization in the Netherlands, the COC, has been campaigning for this amendment of the Constitution for over twenty years. Their proposal to enshrine LGBTQ+ rights in the Constitution was discussed by the House of Representatives at the end of June, where it received overwhelming support: 124 elected officials voted in favour, and only 26 voted against it. The members of Parliament opposing the amendment were representatives of the PVV, SGP and Forum voor Democratie; all other parties (VVD, CDA, D66, GroenLinks, SP, PvdA, ChristenUnie, Partij voor de Dieren, 50PLUS, DENK en Groep Krol/Van Kooten-Arissen) approved the proposal.
An eye to the future
Astrid Oosenburg, chairman of COC, described the Parliament’s support of the proposal as “wonderful news”, “an important step for the anchoring of our rights in the constitution”. Oosenburg pointed out that the inclusion of sexual orientation on the list of illegal grounds for discrimination represents a guarantee for the future: this new version of article 1 of the Constitution would ensure that the hard-fought rights of the LGBTQ+ community will be protected in the decades to come.
What about trans people?
The COC originally proposed to make it explicit that the Constitution also forbids discrimination based on “gender identity, gender expression and gender characteristics”, but during the debate Second Deputy Prime Minister Kajsa Ollongren reasoned that the original wording of the Dutch Constitution already includes all of this under the umbrella “gender discrimination”.
The road ahead
Changing the Constitution is a long process: the vote on June 30th was only the beginning. Next, the proposal will go to the 75 seat Senate. If it is approved, after the elections in March 2021 the proposal will go back to the House and Senate for a final vote. Only if receives the support of a two-thirds majority will article 1 of the Constitution finally be amended.