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Tuesday, 19 December, 2000, 23:43 GMT
Dutch gays allowed to marry
Two men embracing
Gay couples will also be able to divorce
By Geraldine Coughlan in The Hague

The Dutch Senate has passed laws allowing same sex couples to marry and adopt children.

The legislation had already been approved by the lower house, which in September voted by a large majority to give gay marriages the same legal status as heterosexual ones.

Co-habitation, or civil partnerships, between gay couples has been in place in the Netherlands for more than two years, along with the appropriate tax, pension, inheritance and other legal rights.

But under the Dutch constitution, all citizens, regardless of race or creed, are entitled to equal access to the law including marriage.

The legislation is aimed at opening up this right to all persons including same sex couples.

Safeguards

The senate also approved another bill giving gay couples wider rights to adopt Dutch children, a move which many gay couples who share children from previous marriages will welcome.

Now as well as getting legally married, gay couple will also be able to divorce through the courts.

Critics claim there is a risk that same sex couples could run into legal problems abroad, in countries where gay marriages are not recognised.

But the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs has given assurances that legal safeguards for gay couples both within and outside the county can be guaranteed.

See also:

19 Dec 00 | Americas
01 Dec 00 | Europe
30 Nov 00 | Politics
30 Mar 00 | Americas
12 Sep 00 | Europe
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