Historic day in the Netherlands: Senate abolishes possibility to dismiss LGB-teachers

A large majority in the Upper Chambre indicated they were in favour of the abolition of the ‘enkele-feitconstructie’ during debate on 3 March. The legal provision allows religious schools to dismiss, refuse or send away lesbian, gay and bisexual teachers and pupils. The proposal for abolition will be voted on next week. With this decision Dutch Parliament fulfills the last promise of COC’s Pink Ballot Agreement 2012.

Around 70% of children/youth in The Netherlands go to a religious-based school. ‘Religious schools’ are primary and secondary schools, that are set up on the basis of a religious conviction (Protestant, Catholic, Hindu, Islamic and Jewish). Both public and religious schools need to meet the same standards and minimum content in terms of education.

COC has fought for the abolition of this discriminatory provision for 21 years. In 2009, 30,000 people signed a COC-petition against the provision. “It is a major victory for lesbians, gays and bisexuals in religious education. They can never be discriminated again based on their sexual orientation”, says COC chair Tanja Ineke.

According to the provision, schools set up on a religious conviction cannot dismiss an LGB ‘solely’ on the basis of their sexual orientation, but they can based on ‘additional circumstances’. An orthodox-reformed primary school in Oegstgeest dismissed teacher Duran Renkema referring to this legal provision, when he started having a relationship with a man.

COC’s Pink Ballot Agreement

In 2012 nine political parties committed themselves to five political promises by signing COC’s Pink Ballot Agreement. The Agreement has resulted in: compulsory comprehensive sexuality education (1 December 2012), an end to registrars refusing to marry same-sex couples (1 November 2014), automatic co-parent recognition for lesbian couples (1 July 2014) and the new gender reassignment legislation (1 July 2014).

COC has called for a new Pink Agreement with Parliament and Government consisting of five new promises in terms of LGBT-legislation:

1. Prohibition of SOGI-discrimination in the Constitution

2. Prohibition of discrimination of gender identity in the Law on Equality

3. Higher minimum sentence for bias-based violence

4. Abolish formal gender registration, such as in passports

5. An adequate legal arrangement for co-parenting with multiple parents (more than two)

COC made the call for this Agreement to the Lower Chambre on 18 November 2014 through an article in NRC Next.

Please see here for further details.