The Kingdom territories follow Dutch laws – with some exceptions
One float in particular stood out at the Amsterdam Pride parade on Saturday.
The parade, which took place on the canal, had a float present to raise awareness about LGBTI rights in Dutch Caribbean countries.
The Netherlands is progressive as a country – it was the first to legalize same sex marriage, in 2001 – but the three other countries which make up the Kingdom of the Netherlands: Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten, all lag behind.
This is especially true for transgender rights: you cannot change your legal gender, for example.
This is an issue of conservative Catholicism, says LGBTI activist Ramona Pikeur. Pikeur is director of Caribbean gay rights organization Dushi & Proud and organized the Pride float.
‘In the Netherlands we have achieved so much social acceptance. But none of these laws have been enforced in the Caribbean territories,’ she told Gay Star News.
‘There are a number of reasons for this: it’s still considered a sin in the religious culture of those countries and thought of as a sickness of LGBT people.’
LGBT people in the Dutch Caribbean countries face a number of legal problems.
For instance, there are no employment protection laws, and people can be fired simply for being gay.
Pikeur hopes the float will raise awareness in the Netherlands about what is happening abroad. She is sure the governments of these countries will work together amicably.
‘We reached out to organizations in Aruba, St Maarten and Curacao to achieve something we’re too small to achieve alone.
‘[But] the Dutch government are trying their best: they’re trying to avoid acting like “big brother” and saying: “This is what to do and what not to do”.
‘We see now that, around the world and especially with what happened in America and Ireland: the time is ripe, and the government have made it a priority to have gay rights in the whole kingdom.’