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Netherlands-SOGI Legislation Country Report (2013)


The Constitution of the Kingdom of the Netherlands prohibits discrimination on “the grounds of religion, belief, political opinion, race or sex or on any other grounds whatsoever”. “Other grounds” has been interpreted by courts to include sexual orientation. The prohibition of discrimination on the ground of sex has been interpreted to include gender identity.

The Equal Treatment Act prohibits discrimination on a number of grounds including “hetero- or homosexual preference” in areas including employment, vocational education, union membership, social security and health care, social advantages, education, and access to goods and services including housing. It also establishes an Equal Treatment Commission to address complaints of discrimination.

The Dutch Penal Code prohibits incitement of hatred, discrimination, or violence based on “heterosexual or homosexual orientation.” Homophobic discrimination is also considered an aggravating factor in sentencing.

Same-sex sexual activity is legal, and the age of consent is the same for same-sex and opposite-sex sexual activity (Dutch Penal Code).

Under the Dutch Civil Code, same-sex marriage is legal; same-sex registered partnerships are also recognized. Marriages and registered partnerships are also options for opposite-sex couples, and there are no differences in benefits extended to same-sex couples versus opposite-sex couples.

Same-sex couples can adopt jointly or adopt a spouse’s children under the Dutch Civil Code.

The Dutch Civil Code allows a legal change of gender and first name, but only after sex reassignment surgery that renders the person sterile.

The Aliens Decree, 2000 treats opposite-sex partners and same-sex partners the same for immigration purposes.

Individuals persecuted for their sexual orientation may claim asylum in the Netherlands, according to the Aliens Circular.

link to full text in PDF: Netherlands-SOGI Legislation Country Report-2013-eng