October 2021International News

The Netherlands Becomes First Country to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage for Heir-Apparents

Elsie Tierney
Staff Writer

The prime minister of the Netherlands has announced that Dutch royals are now allowed to marry someone of the same sex without having to give up their royal position, reports BBC News.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte stated the current heir to the throne, Princess Amalia, could marry someone of any sex without having to give up her throne. According to The Associated Press, the Netherlands was the first country to legalize same-sex marriage on April 1, 2001.  Despite this, it was still not legal for royals to marry a same-sex partner until the decree, as the Dutch constitution states that a king or queen can only be succeeded by a “lawful descendent,” The Guardian explains. In same-sex couples, any child and potential heir would have to either be adopted or conceived through the use of a sperm donor or surrogate. 

At this point in the drafting of the new legalization, it is unclear how an adopted child or child conceived with a sperm donor or surrogate would fit into the line of succession, with Rutte calling the situation, “frightfully complicated.” The current results of the new legalization are completely hypothetical. According to The Guardian, the prime minister told Dutch TV that “[We’ll] cross that bridge if we come to it.”

The initial statement to legalize the royal ability to marry a same-sex partner came as a response to a Dutch political lawyer’s book, Amalia, Duty Calls, which came out this past summer. The book raised the question of what would happen if Princess Amalia chose a same-sex partner. The Washington Post reports, however, that Amalia herself has not said anything regarding the matter or her own personal life. No one in the public press has been speculating about Amalia’s personal life, either.  

Amalia will turn 18 in December and start her university career soon. The Guardian continues that she decided earlier this year that she would not be accepting the annual royal student income once she turns 18, because it would make her feel “uncomfortable.”  

These new laws in the Netherlands and Amalia’s attitude towards her student allowance shows a new trend of young royals breaking tradition. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry of the British Royal family have come under lots of public scrutiny for their non-traditional actions, most notably leaving the royal family, as BBC News reports. The couple have also been very public supporters of the LGBTQ+ community, repeatedly saying they would put LGBTQ+ issues at the forefront of their work. In addition, Prince Harry’s older brother, Prince William, was awarded the Straight Ally award at the annual British LGBT Awards in 2017.

Historically, royal families have not been welcoming to members who were LGBTQ+. Many royals throughout history have had to hide their sexuality, with many taking their secret to the grave. NBC News describes that King Umberto II of Italy, successor to Mussolini, was outed by the media in an attempt to discredit him. The attempt worked, as 34 days after he was outed, the public voted to abolish monarchy in Italy. 

More recently, Spanish Duchess Luisa Isabel Alvarez de Toledo married a younger woman on her deathbed in 2008, reports The Washington Post. The New York Times adds that upon coming out in 2006, Indian Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil experienced significant backlash, as people burned effigies in his hometown, his mother tried to disown him, and he received death threats.  

The British royal family celebrated their first gay marriage in 2016 between Lord Mountbatten and his now husband, James Coyle, as NBC News describes.  Lord Mountbatten is Queen Elizabeth II’s third cousin once removed and Queen Victoria’s great-great-great grandson. This was a monument of social change for the British Royal family’s attitude towards homosexuality. The wedding also occurred a month after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, another turning point for the British royal family. Though these actions show significant social shifts, Lord Mountbatten was not an heir to the throne, a vastly different scenario to many members of the royal family. 

While the Netherlands have made great progress towards acceptance for all LGBTQ+ people, there is still a ways to go. As of April 1, 2021, the 20-year anniversary of the Netherlands legalizing gay marriage, only 28 countries and the self-governing nation of Taiwan have legalized gay marriage, according to The Associated Press. This means that only 15 percent of the world population can legally enter a gay marriage. 

The Netherlands has continued to pave the way for LGBTQ+ equality.  While traditions in royal families around the world have begun to relax, there is still a long way to go on the front of marriage equality.

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