Oleh Viera Amelia Priyono
The Netherlands is known for its liberal policies on matters such as sexual orientation. In the eighteenth century the Dutch Republic challenged England’s proud boast that it was the freest country in Europe. The Netherlands decriminalised the homosexual act in 1811. In 1972, The Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Netherlands allowed gays and lesbians to become pastors. From the government’s manifesto of 1998 (Parliamentary Papers II, 1997/1998, 26024, nr. 9, p. 68) it appears that the principle of equal treatment of homosexual and heterosexual couples has been decisive in the debate about the opening up of marriage for persons of the same sex. The Netherlands then became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage, or Homohuwelijk in Dutch, was legalised on April 1st 2001 with Amendment of Book 1 of the Civil Code, concerning the opening up of marriage for persons of the same sex (Act on the Opening Up of Marriage).
Following the legalisation of same-sex marriage, the Netherlands has also enacted law concerning: recognition of same-sex couples; both joint and step adoption by same-sex couples; gays to serve in the military; right to change legal gender; and access to IVF for lesbians. However, despite its liberality on sexual orientation issues, the Netherlands still put highest concern on health by not legalising commercial surrogacy for gay male couples and prohibit blood donation from MSM.
This pioneering in legalising same-sex marriage, however is still on debates and there are protests against it, is in accordance with what’s stipulated and elucidated in Universal Declaration on Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The Netherlands strives to respect and to ensure to all individuals the rights of self-determination without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. This legalisation then followed by many other countries such as Belgium Ontario and British Colombia in 2003, Massachusetts in 2004, Spain and Canada in 2005, South Africa in 2006, California in 2008, et cetera.
 Chelsea Schields, “Public Affair: The Politics and Perspectives of Homosexual Identity throughout Early Modern and Modern Dutch Society”, p. 12.
 Some historical facts about homosexuality and the law, http://hrsbstaff.ednet.ns.ca/cbarre/global% 20history%2012%20uploads/some%20historical%20facts%20about%20homosexuality%20and%20gay%20rights.pdf, accessed on April 27th 2013, 22:57.