Published On: Thu, Jun 29th, 2023

PM Jacobs blocks same-sex marriage

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PHILIPSBURG – Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs sees “insufficient space” for making marriage between partners of the same sex possible in St. Maarten. This appears from a letter Kingdom Relations State Secretary Alexandra van Huffelen has sent to the Dutch parliament in answer to questions about this topic from D66-MP Boris Dittrich.

Dittrich asked the state secretary on April 6 to discuss the options for same-sex marriage with the Caribbean country St. Maarten. Aruba and Curacao. “During the past couple of months I have spoken about this issue with the prime ministers of the Caribbean countries,” the letter states. “Most of the talks were of a constructive and empathizing nature, but they do not see sufficient space to open marriage for partners of the same sex. That is regrettable, but considering the countries’ autonomy my perspectives for action are limited.”

Van Huffelen made her position clear: “Marriage between partners of the same sex is not possible everywhere in the kingdom. I regret this. In my opinion, everybody must be able to marry the partner of his or her choice.”

The autonomy of the Caribbean countries is in this respect a hindrance: “They are responsible for realizing fundamental human rights and freedoms. It is not up to the Netherlands to say how other countries do this.”

Van Huffelen refers to international treaties that countries have to respect. The European Human Rights Court has ruled that countries that do not allow same-sex marriage must offer an alternative, like a registered partnership established by law. The European Human Rights Treaty applies to the whole kingdom, the state secretary notes.

Aruba leads the way in this respect with legislation that regulates registered partnerships. “This is not a full-fledged alternative for marriage because the legal consequences are not identical.” Registered partnerships do not exist in St. Maarten and Curacao.

Van Huffelen mentions in her letter also recent rulings from the Common Court of Justice in Willemstad. This court ruled that Aruba and Curacao violate the prohibition of discrimination by excluding same-sex partners from marriage. Both countries have filed objections against these rulings at the Supreme Court. “I await the results of these procedures at the Supreme Court and I will inform you about their consequences.”

Earlier court rulings about the same issue offer some relief to same-sex couples who want to get married. These marriages are legal in the Netherlands and on the Dutch public entities Saba, Bonaire, and Statia. Marriages performed elsewhere in the kingdom are valid throughout the kingdom, the courts ruled. St. Maarten, Aruba, and Curacao are obliged to register these couples as married in their population registry.