Same-sex marriage in the Netherlands

Same-sex marriage in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands, it has been possible for two men or two women to marry since 2001. As such, any couples of the same sex or gender identity can cement their union by one of the options available to heterosexual couples in the Netherlands:

Facts about gay marriage in the Netherlands

Are you in a same-sex relationship and considering marriage or registered partnership in the Netherlands? Read on to find out some facts about gay marriage in the Netherlands.

When did gay marriage become legal in the Netherlands?

On September 12, 2000, a bill for the legalisation of gay marriages was passed in the House of Representatives by 109 votes to 33, and on December 19, 2000, by the Senate by 49 votes to 26. Only the Christian political parties Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), the Christian Union (CU) and the Reformed Political Party (SGP) of the Dutch government voted against the bill. The law took effect on April 1, 2001, making the Netherlands the first country in the world to extend civil marriage laws to same-sex couples.

As of 2014, it has been illegal for marriage officiants in the Netherlands to refuse their services to same-sex couples.

Are there other countries that allow same-sex marriage?

Whilst the Netherlands was the first country in the world that legalised gay marriage, it certainly was not the last. Currently, gay marriage is legal in over 25 countries and counting.

Same-sex couples and children in the Netherlands

Please note that there is an important difference for same-sex couples wishing to formalise their union in the Netherlands when it comes to children:

Marriage between two women

As of April 2014, a co-mother can become a child’s legal parent without going to the courts. Depending on the situation, she is either automatically the child’s parent from birth or she can acknowledge the child. The same applies to a registered partnership.

Co-mother: Automatic legal parent

The following conditions must be adhered to for the co-mother to become a legal parent automatically at birth:

  • The mother and co-mother are legally married to each other or they are registered partners.
  • In case the child was conceived with the help of an anonymous sperm donation, when the birth is registered, a declaration by the Artificial Fertilisation Donor Information Office should be submitted to the Registrar of Births, Deaths, Marriages and Registered Partnerships, indicating that the donor’s identity is unknown and the pregnancy was the result of insemination by a sperm donor under the terms of the Human Fertilisation (Donor Information) Act.

Co-mother: Legal parent through acknowledgement

If the birth mother becomes pregnant by a known donor, the co-mother has the option to become the child’s legal parent through acknowledgement. This can be done via a notary or at the Registrar of Births, Deaths, Marriages and Registered Partnership.

It’s possible to acknowledge a child before its birth. However, if the sperm donor is the first person to acknowledge the child before birth, the co-mother will not have parental responsibility. If the donor acknowledges the child after birth, it is impossible for him to acquire parental responsibility.

Marriage between two men

If two men in a relationship are caring for a child and one of them is the child's father, he alone is recognised as the lawful father. However, it is possible for the father’s partner to acquire paternity through either adoption or affidavit.

Gay marriage in the Netherlands: Recognition by other countries

Couples of the same-sex and / or gender identity who marry in the Netherlands must be aware that their union may not be recognised by other foreign countries.

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