Mr. Piet de Klerk
Deputy Permanent Representative of the Netherlands
On the occasion of the LGBT-side event at the UNITED NATIONS in New York
NEW YORK, 10 December 2010
As the Secretary-General just said, in over seventy countries, sexual acts between people of the same sex are still criminal offences. In a few countries, such acts are even capital crimes. Even in countries that do not criminalise homosexuality, gays are often in a very difficult position – accepted for who they are neither by their families, nor by their government, nor society as a whole. The taboo that surrounds them is still enormous. In such an environment, discrimination and even aggression are never far away. My own country, the Netherlands, is no exception in this regard.
Ten years ago, the Netherlands was the first country in the world to allow legal marriage between same-sex couples. We’ve had the Gay Games and EuroGames, and every year we have Canal Pride, in which for three years now a government boat has taken part. We are proud of these achievements in the struggle for equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, but realise that still much more needs to be done.
The Netherlands has therefore already registered as the host country for an important Council of Europe conference on the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons in 2013. And next spring, the Dutch cabinet will launch an LGBT strategy and present it to parliament. The Yogyakarta-principles will be an important source of inspiration. We will continue to cooperate with trade unions, networks, youth organisations and LGBT organisations, at both the national and the European levels. We would also like to contribute to a NATO working group with the countries that have implemented an active LGBT equality policy, because we believe you should also be able to be gay or lesbian in the armed forces.
Let me end, Madam Chair, by thanking you and Ambassador Mclay for presiding over this meeting and the speakers for their impressive contributions that no doubt will give a new momentum to this just cause, as the US Ambassador Rice said.
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