Religious groups call rally to oppose same-sex marriage in Dutch Caribbean territories

BY admin

June 03 2004 12:00 AM ET

Religious groups have called a rally in St. Maarten for June 13 to oppose same-sex marriage in Dutch Caribbean territories. The rally is set to happen three days before a court is scheduled to rule on the matter. Two men filed a lawsuit last year in a Netherlands Antilles court when the government of Curacao refused to recognize their marriage. They were married in 2002 in the Netherlands, where same-sex marriage is legal.

Laws of Dutch Caribbean territories define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, but the court is being asked to rule on whether same-sex marriages in the Netherlands can also be registered in the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba. The court is scheduled to rule on the matter June 16. The Netherlands Antilles, representing 250,000 people, includes Bonaire, Curacao, Saba, St. Eustatius, and St. Maarten. About 70,000 people live in Aruba, an autonomous Dutch territory. "Homosexuality is a human phenomenon," said Chester Peterson, the attorney for the two men. "It's normal."

Both the Dutch attorney general and the high court's president at The Hague have advised that the marriages should be recognized, but the Curacao-based Netherlands Antilles government has refused, saying the ruling doesn't take into account the island's culture. Aruba's justice minister, Rudy Croes, said the territories should not be forced to recognize same-sex marriages.

Protestant churches have scheduled their June 13 rally at St. Maarten University. The Netherlands, Belgium, Canada's three most populous provinces, and the U.S. state of Massachusetts are the only places in the world where gay couples can legally marry.

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