LGBT Tolerance in the Netherlands

Introduction

Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, is frequently called the gay capital of the world. In 2001, the Netherlands was the first country to legalize same-sex marriage, eliminating any distinction between heterosexual and homosexual marriages. After the Dutch passed this law, other countries started following suit (Taylor), showing that the Dutch have been a leading force in LGBT rights for decades.

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The acronym LGBT stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. The first three letters have to do with sexual orientation and those three sexual orientations are considered homosexuality. Homosexuals are people who are attracted to the same sex. Transgender men and women are individuals whose gender identity and gender expression differ from the sex they were assigned at birth. Gender identity is a person’s internal experience of gender. Furthermore, gender expression refers to how people present themselves to the outside world (“LGBTQ”).

Clincher pls With more than 90% of the Dutch population believing that homosexual, bisexual, and transgender individuals should be free to choose how they live their lives (“Gender”), the Netherlands is considered one of the most friendly LGBT countries. In all situations, there is opposition. For example, a nation is made up of different people from all walks of life with different views, so there is a minority of people who see the LGBT community in a negative fashion.

Furthermore, negative attitudes are more prevalent among students, although they are more aware of LGBT rights. In addition, there are still differences in toleration regarding LGBT individuals. This fact is highlighted through people in the Netherlands being more accepting towards homosexuals than transgender people. For the most part, Dutch adults have a positive view of the LGBT community, while adults with immigrant backgrounds, less education, and are part of a strict religious group, are more likely to have a negative view (“Gender”). This paper will address the differences between the treatment of transgender and homosexuals, and the demographics of tolerance and treatment of the LGBT community socially and legally.

Tolerance of Homosexuals Generally, LGB tolerance in the Netherlands wouldn’t be considered a big problem legally. According to the Chicago Journal of International Law, the Netherlands became the first country to allow same-sex couples to marry on the same terms as heterosexual couples by the lower house of parliament with a vote of 190 to 33 in 2000. The marriage law was approved by the upper house of parliament by 49 to 26 votes (Patterson 2). Some limitations that gay men encounter is not being able to give blood since men who have sex with other men have a greater risk of being HIV positive, but the government is working to remove this restriction (“Gender”).

Legally, almost all homosexuals have the same treatment as heterosexuals, but the question is whether or not homosexuals receive the same treatment socially. According to a journal written by Saskia Keuzenkamp, a professor of Social Studies and Sociology at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, through the years, a growing majority of the population have a positive attitude to homosexuality (Keuzenkamp 34). Despite this,””… for around two decades, 5% of the Dutch public have disagreed with the statement that homosexuals should be free to lead their lives as they choose,”” portraying she has also found that a limit has been reached, in regards to the acceptance of homosexuality, Despite the Netherlands being known to be very accepting, there is a persisting anti-LGB climate in schools, with many young people afraid to be transparent about their homosexuality.

This reaction is still with good reason, since ‘gay’ and ‘fag’ are two of the most frequently used insults used to question male students’ masculinity (“”Sexual””). In addition, recent research done by the Public Health Service of Amsterdam shows that one-fifth of young people in Amsterdam are negative about LGBT pupils. (“”Dutch””). The Dutch government is working for more LGB awareness at school. Since 2012, awareness of sexual diversity has been a mandatory part of sex education in primary and secondary school. LGB organizations and schools across Europe work together to combat homophobia at school (“”Sexual””). Extra measures have also been put in place to combat LGBT discrimination, the demand on offences under general criminal law that include a discriminatory aspect has increased by 50%. Safety networks have been created with COC (a prominent LGBT organization), with the objective of improving the detection of homophobic violence and communication about how cases and investigations are progressing.

Each region hold its own regional discrimination meetings (“”Dutch””). Tolerance of Transgender People Transgender people in the Netherlands have slightly less acceptance than homosexuals. Despite this, gender changes are becoming more accepted. Since 1985, it has been possible to change your registered sex in the Netherlands, but only after undergoing gender reassignment surgery and sterilisation (“”Gender””). The process to change genders was hard and time-consuming (“”Controlling””).

These prerequisites were removed in 2014, however they still must choose either male or female. Transgender people are protected against discrimination by the constitution and the General Equal Treatment Act (“”Gender””). In a journal from the Netherlands Institute for Social Research co-written by Saskia Keuzenkamp and Lisette Kuyper, who is a researcher that specializes in attitudes towards LGBT individuals, it mentions that surveys show a high level of acceptance of transgender. At the same time, it showed that 20% would think there is something wrong with people who don’t feel either male or female; 21% would rather not associate with people who don’t feel clearly male or female; and 57% want to know when they meet someone whether they are a man or a woman (Kuyper). Around 30% of transgenders in the Netherlands keep their feelings hidden, usually out of fear or shame. Compared to the general Dutch population, the mental health of transgender people is feeble. Half of all transgender people suffer from mental health issues and 70% of transgender people have thought about committing suicide. However, the majority of transgender people say they’re happy with their lives (“”Gender””)

Counter Argument

While the Netherlands prides itself on being one of the most LGBT friendly countries in the world and the rights of LGBT individuals are equal to the general population in the Netherlands, that doesn’t automatically mean there won’t be problems that arise. Being a country of 17.08 million people, there are bound to be different perspectives and ways of thinking. Among the 17 million, there are people that harbor negative feelings towards LGBT individuals. These negative attitudes can be found more among the younger and older generations, men (in comparison to women), the less educated, strongly religious people, and Dutch citizens with ethnic minority backgrounds, such as the Turks and the Moroccans (“”The Social””).

Despite the multiple laws protecting LGBT individuals from homophobia, there still have been incidents where homosexuals have been discriminated against. While the majority of the population say they support LGBT rights, when the clothing brand Suitsupply released its new ad campaign of two men being affectionate with each other in early 2018, many of the ads were graffitied over. The company lost many followers and received hundreds of complaints and curses via email (Pieters). Violent incidents towards homosexuals aren’t decreasing either, in 2009, the number of reports of homophobic violence was 2,009, while in 2016, there were 1,574 reports (Dittrich).

Conclusion

A journal from the Williams Institute shows that in general, countries accepting of LGBT people are becoming more accepting. The Netherlands was among the top five most accepting countries. From 2004-2009, the LGBT Acceptance Index Score was 5.84 for the Netherlands, from 2009-2013, it was 6.67, showing improvement of Dutch tolerance (Flores 16, 27). Legally, LGBT individuals have the same rights as the general population. Socially, while the majority are accepting and treat them as every ordinary person, some people are more drastic and don’t treat them well. The Dutch government is working hard to prevent homophobic incidents, through more exposure in schools and the police force, even having a special squad called the “”Pink Police Force”” of LGBT police officers and allies who specialize in investigating homophobic activities (Dittrich). As of now, the Dutch still view transgenders differently from homosexuals, and there are still people who have homophobia, but LGBT tolerance, while very accepting, is improving year by year.

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