Saba Becomes First Dutch Caribbean Nation to Approve Same-Sex Marriage
Though Caribbean countries are relatively close in proximity, cultures on each tiny island of paradise differ vastly, especially when it comes to accepting the LGBT community, which expands from marriage equality to criminalization.
As part of the Netherlands Kingdom, the islands of Saba, Bonaire and St. Eustatius must recognize same-sex marriages, however, Saba is the first of the islands to approve it into their own legal system.
Saba, a small Dutch island known for its glorious diving thanks to its location at the top of the mountain (the rest of the landmass is undersea), has always been touted as gay-friendly. However, the country’s acceptance policy was made official on October 10 when they adopted their motherland’s 2001 same-sex marriage law, and has recently been publicized with the country’s first same-sex wedding. Xiomar Gonzales Cedeno Ruis and Israel Ruis Gonzales from Aruba and Venezuela, respectively, were wed in the island’s courthouse on December 4. Another couple tied the knot on Tuesday, December 18.
The several-year lag time for the adoption of the law was due to the fact that the local government wanted to ensure the community was ready.
Glenn Holm, the openly gay director of the Saba Tourist Bureau who worked with Cedeno and Ruis, told the Washington Blade that he plans to promote “gay weddings on the highest point of the Dutch kingdom” while in the Netherlands next month.
“We’ve seen it as a human rights issue,” said Saba council member Carl Buncamper, who is openly gay. “It is important to give the partners equal rights when it comes to inheritance and other benefits.”
Neighboring French Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe may be following in Saba’s sandy footsteps, as France prepares to vote on its own same-sex marriage in early 2013.
With destination weddings booming, we’re thrilled to see Caribbean countries not only accepting same-sex couples, but legally recognizing their commitment.