Do gays in legal terminology form a ‘group’ that need to fear ‘being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion’? The Netherlands has several gay asylum seekers that say they do and three of them (from Sierra Leone, Uganda and Senegal) convinced the Dutch Council of State to ask the European Court of Justice (of the EU) in a preliminary judgment what to think of this. In November the Court ruled that a. “the existence of criminal laws (…) which specifically target homosexuals, supports the finding that those persons must be regarded as forming a particular social group”, b. “that the criminalisation of homosexual acts per se does not constitute an act of persecution. However, a term of imprisonment which sanctions homosexual acts and which is actually applied in the country of origin which adopted such legislation must be regarded as being a punishment which is disproportionate or discriminatory and thus constitutes an act of persecution”, and c. “When assessing an application for refugee status, the competent authorities cannot reasonably expect, in order to avoid the risk of persecution, the applicant for asylum to conceal his homosexuality in his country of origin or to exercise reserve in the expression of his sexual orientation.” (See the Court judgment here.)
In other words, when it comes to asylum there is no fundamental distinction between homosexuality, religious conviction, and political conviction. Since one should not ask a political activist to ‘back down a bit’ or a believer in God to just do his prayers at night and behind closed doors, one should also not ask a homosexual to behave in public as if s/he is straight.
The decision of the Court did stir up some discussion on how many gay Muslims we may expect in the future …. and whether it is ethical to ask an asylum seeker to convince the Dutch judge that he really is gay …
I have been subscribed to this YouTube channel for some time. About stereotypes. It is always relevant, funny, light, and serious. Focused on the USA with its weird ideas about ‘race’. Still, this one is nice, too. Watch and share!
The proposed ‘Act against forced marriages’ (Wet tegengaan huwelijksdwang) has finally on 12 June 2013 entered the houses of Parliament in the Netherlands. The Act changes several existing civil laws. The most important changes are:
- Marriage age is set at 18 years absolute. Existing law knows exceptions, like when a 16 year old girl is pregnant or has given birth,
- Family relations in third or fourth grade stand in the way of a marriage, unless both marriage partners under oath and in the presence of the civil servant declare that they freely consent to the marriage,
- Nullification because of ‘being forced’ of the marriage is possible until 3 years after the conclusion of the marriage,
- All marriages concluded in the Netherlands, must conform to Dutch legal requirements (means exit private international law at this point)
- Marriages concluded abroad can be recognized in the Netherlands when the marriage at the time of recognition conforms to Dutch law (partners at that time 18 years old and state that they freely consent to the marriage)
The government says that these legal rules need to be seen as a ‘last resort’. Other, more preventive measures will probably be much more effective “to ban forced marriages from Dutch legal order’.
Sources in Dutch: https://zoek.officielebekendmakingen.nl/dossier/33488
This is how far the Netherlands have drifted from what was once a relatively easy going, relaxed, tolerant society: a son of a Dutch-Turkish father and a Dutch mother was given a beautiful name at birth. I guess his name is Nadir, meaning ‘rare’. Born in 1995. At primary school however, he is reproached for his name by his peers. Called a foreigner and a Muslim. Same in high school. The guy in the mean time learned that having a name like ‘Nadir’ in Holland won’t get you into a job easily. So he wants to have his name changed.
His parents (because he is a minor) ask the court for a name change. They understand their son. They are realistic, and have to agree with him, regretfully. The court stresses the principle of equality of all citizens in the Netherlands and says that ‘names should not matter’ in a multicultural society. However, the court is realistic too, and is convinced by the stories of the parents and of Nadir himself. The judge allows for the change of name.
So now the guy is called … ? Jan? Koen? … What a pity.
See the court decision in Dutch.
This does not happen often in the Netherlands: judges protesting against their workload and the increasing urge for efficiency. According to NRC (in Dutch), judges from the court of appeal in Leeuwarden have written a manifesto that is discussed internally. The judges complain that the quality of their work hardly receives any attention, while there is an increasing tendency to just look at the number of cases processed. The need to do ‘production’ replaces the need for attention to individual cases and legal quality.
In a first reaction the Council for the Judiciary agreed. “We share the concern”, they said.
To be continued …
The Dutch media and legal profession has been filled and occupied for some years already with the info on two lying retired judges in the so-called Chipshol case about an area of land near Schiphol airport. Today the prosecution said they deemed ‘lying about their intimate friendship’ proven beyond doubt, and asked for a suspended sentence of four and two months respectively, plus a community work sentence for both.
As far as anyone knows, this is the first time ever that judges are prosecuted in the Netherlands.
See NRC (in Dutch only).
On 27 October the first privately owned cemevi of the Alevi community in ‘t Gooi in the Netherlands was officially opened. The mayor was there, members of the board of the Alevi Federation Hak.Der were there, and further lots of local people (and nice music and food).
See the coverage of the local newspaper (in Dutch).
The Netherlands will cease to be a suitable country for orthodox Jews when current plans to check and control the process of ritual slaughter, says chief rabbi Aryeh Ralbag. Ralbag reacts to the new covenant between religious groups and the ministry. When this covenant is accepted is it is formulated right now, the civil servant who will check the process will be ‘above’ the rabbi, and this is unacceptable.
The ministry says it takes the complaints seriously. The rabbi will be invited for a talk.
Independent researcher Sinan Çankaya did participant observation among street worker policemen in Amsterdam and had interviews and talks with them while smoking and drinking coffee. He wanted to find out if the Dutch police is the same as police elsewhere, picking out the black guys walking hooded on the streets to ask for their ID’s, stopping the Surinam men who drive in fancy cars etcetera. And yes, Çankaya found they are exactly the same. Reassuring on the one hand (Dutch policemen act like police in other countries), painful on the other (Dutch policemen act like police in other countries!).
Police so far reacted okay. “This is painful, but we need the discussion. We have to learn to select criminals based on what they do, on their deviant behaviour, not on what they look like.”
The research will be published later this year. Unfortunately only in Dutch. But just check the foreign books on the topic and you will know how Dutch policemen act ..