Gert Kasteel and Dolf Pasker
Gert Kasteel, right, and Dolf Pasker, left, one of the first four couples who tied the knot when same-sex marriage was legalized in the Netherlands, react during an interview at their home in Weesp, near Amsterdam, Netherlands. (Peter Dejong/AP/Shutterstock)

20 Years After World’s First Legal Same-Sex Marriage, Dutch Couple Celebrates Historic Anniversary

In a historic first that took place on April 1, 2001, four Dutch same-sex couples were legally wed in the Netherlands. Today, those couples — including Gert Kasteel and Dolf Pasker — are celebrating that historic wedding anniversary.

Reuters reported that Kasteel and Pasker, as well as two other same-sex couples married that night, celebrated their 20th anniversaries in small groups or at home due to COVID-19 restrictions preventing the gathering of large crowds. (A fourth couple was married that night as well, but one of the men died of a heart attack in 2011.)

In an interview with Reuters, Kasteel and Pasker looked back on their historic nuptials and how the world has changed in the past two decades.

“It’s nicer to say to other people ‘he’s my husband, he’s my man,’” Pasker said. “It has helped me to accept myself.” 

During their interview, the couple sat next to each other and flipped through an album of photos and newspaper clippings — their wedding had made headlines worldwide. “I’m very proud that it’s possible,” Kasteel said. Before he could complete his thought, Pasker jumped in and finished the sentence by saying, “that we could play a little part of it. We made history.”

“People told me that the Netherlands would be the first and the last country to pass same-sex marriages, the rest of the world won’t follow you,” Henk Krol, a lawmaker who supported the bill when it passed the Dutch parliament in 2000, told Reuters. “Almost 30 countries in the world [have since] followed the Dutch example.”

Since 2001, 29 nations have legalized same-sex marriage, including the United States, the United Kingdom, most of Europe, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, Mexico, Colombia and Taiwan. Costa Rica was the most recent nation to allow same-sex marriage, legalizing it in May 2020.

In March 2021, Japan also moved closer to allowing same-sex marriage in the nation after a judge ruled that barring same-sex marriages in the country was unconstitutional.


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