ORANJESTAD- Around the world June is celebrated as Pride Month for the LGBT+ community. The annual celebration commemorates the Stonewall Riots that marked the beginning of the international gay rights movement. The social and political movement advocates for equality, including legal rights and opportunities for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders and other sexual minorities.
Aruba’s gay rights movement began in 2006 when Oduber-Lammers, an Aruban-Dutch lesbian couple married in the Netherlands, took legal action to have their marriage registered locally. In 2007 a judge ruled that the Civil Registry would have to register the Dutch marriage of the local residents but the victory remained symbolic as it did not confer any rights.
In 2016 ex-Member of Parliament Desiree Croes proposed an amendment to introduce civil unions (geregistreerd partnerschap) with the same rights as marriage for both homosexual and heterosexual couples. The Parliament of Aruba, with 11 votes in favor, passed a consensus amendment that created civil unions but without rights equal to those of marriage. Aruba’s Parliament was the first legislative body in the Caribbean to approve civil unions for same-sex couples.
In 2021, the Parliament of Aruba with 17 votes in favor, approved implementation of changes to the civil code (burgerlijk wetboek) including the introduction of civil unions. Since 1 September 2021 both same-sex and heterosexual couples can enter into a civil union at the Civil Registry albeit without the same rights and privileges as those legally married. On 14 October 2021, the lesbian couple van der Biezen-Cordoba, made history by being the first same-sex couple to enter into a civil union in Aruba, the official ceremony was celebrated at the Town Hall (Stadhuis).
At present heterosexual couples have the option of entering into a civil union or opting for marriage if they want all the rights and privileges the latter confers. However, same-sex couples are relegated to a lesser union without equal rights as their only option which is a form of entrenched discrimination. Benefits such as fiscal affairs (tax), social services and many others remain unavailable to couples in a civil union and inheritance rights can only be established through notarial acts.
According to Miguel Mansur from the Accion21 faction, during June 2022 as part of the Pride Month celebrations, a draft law to introduce same-sex marriage will be presented. The initiating Members of Parliament will sign and officially hand in the proposed legislation to the President and Secretary General of Parliament. At such time the legal trajectory commences and the draft law will be sent to Raad van Advies who will most likely take around six weeks to review and issue their recommendations. Thereafter, based on the recommendations of Raad van Advies, the draft law may be modified and sent back to Raad van Advies for a second review or the President of Parliament will be called upon to schedule a public meeting to debate the draft law.
“We hope that before the end of 2022, the Parliament of Aruba will get the opportunity to debate opening marriage to same-sex couples. This historic change is of the utmost importance for all the benefits it will bring, especially to the physical and mental health of the LGBT+ communit”, says Mansur.