Netherlands not doing very well at LGBTI rights

Netherlands not doing very well at LGBTI rights

The Netherlands have been a frontrunner for LGBTI rights for a long time. Have been, unfortunately. ILGA-Europe’s Annual Review of the Human Rights Situation of LGBTI People shows a worrysome trend: In the Netherlands, these fundamental rights are stagnating and even decreasing! In 12 years our country dropped from 4th to 14th place.

Each year, ILGA-Europe publishes the Annual Review of the Human Rights Situation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex People in Europe and Central Asia. In this review ILGA-Europe inventorises the human rights position of LGBTI people in 49 European countries. The results are published on the website

Dropped to 14th position

In the Netherlands we are proud of our frontrunner position, and we like to think: ‘Of course we are doing very well!’ However, a lot of Dutch LGBTI people have different experiences. That is why Principle 17 looked into the results of the Netherlands of the past 12 years. The outcomes are embarrassing: The Netherlands is no longer a frontrunner and hasn’t been so for several years. In a periode of 12 years we dropped from the 4th to the 14th position!

ILGA-Europe’s Annual Review researches seven major categories: Equality & non-discrimination (25 topics), Family (11 topics), Hate crime & hate speech (8 topics), Legal gender recognition (14 topics), Intersex bodily integrity (4 topics), Civil society space (6 topics) and Asylum (6 topics). We looked into these major categories separately to check how the Netherlands is doing.

Equality & non-discrimination rights improve

We will start with good news. When it comes to civil society space the Netherlands have been doing excellent from the start. We score 100%!

Rainbox Index the Netherlands: 2 out of 7 categories improve, from 2013 to 2023

Dutch LGBTI rights on equality & non-discrimination have improved. This makes up for the reduce of these rights from 2016 to 2019 – and more. We score 72% this year! Mainly because gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics were added to the Equal Treatment Act, as prohibited grounds of discrimination in Article 1. Principle 17 does hope this increase will prolongue further in the upcoming years.

Hate crime & hate speech rights stagnate

Unfortunately, the human rights of LGBTI people in the Netherlands have been stagnating on two other important themes.

Rainbox Index the Netherlands: 2 out of 7 categories stagnate, from 2013 to 2023

When it comes to family rights, we have a solid 82% since 2019. Sad detail: In 2014 we improved to even 91%, but dropped back to 82% in 2019.

However, the situation for hate crime & hate speech rights is quite bad. In 2013 we started at 29%, and improved to 57% in 2015. This rise was because the minister for Security and Justice made combatting LGBTI-phobic violence a priority in 2015-2018, and the police started with setting up regional units dealing specifically with homophobic and transphobic crime. Alas, in the following 3 years we dropped to a miserable 13%, by lacking hate crime laws that explicitly cover all bias-motivated crimes based on sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics. And nothing changed since 2018… The Netherlands need to do better than this!

Asylum rights decrease

The Dutch LGBTI rights on legal gender recognition and asylum are even worse, as these rights are deteriorating over the past years.

Rainbox Index the Netherlands: 2 out of 7 categories decrease, from 2013 to 2023

When it comes to asylum rights, the Netherlands started in 2013 at a decent 75%, and even reached 100% in 2015! This was due to asylum authorities partnering with COC Netherlands to improve LGBTI asylum-seekers’ safety while in housing or detention. But in the following five years the rights drop to an embarrassing 50% in 2020, when COC Netherlands reported that the Dutch LGBTI asylum policy heavily relied on stereotypes about LGBTI people. In 2021, there was a 67% spike, but the rights went down to 50% again in 2022 to stay the same in 2023. In 2022, TNN reported that trans asylum seekers are routinely failed, and LGBT Asylum Support asked protection for LGBTI asylum seekers in unsafe asylum centres. So, asylum rights show a shocking decrease of 50% in 8 years!

Concerning legal gender recognition rights, the Netherlands bounces from 50% in 2013 to 88% in 2014. That year the law regulating legal gender recognition was changed, to finally waive the compulsory gender reassignment surgery and sterilisation. However, the rights drop to 50% in 2015 again, and raised to 78% in 2016, because the government promised to evaluate the gender recognition law in 2017. Only to slowly fall back to 50% in the following years – the same level as in 2013…

Intersex bodily integrity rights absent

Entirely non-existent are intersex bodily integrity rights in the Netherlands. Here we score a shocking 0%, from the moment this category was added to the annual review in 2015.

Rainbox Index the Netherlands: 1 out of 7 categories absent, from 2015 to 2023

In 2018, the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) recommended the Dutch government to take legislative, administrative and other measures to protect the physical integrity and autonomy of intersex people, which the government failed to do up to today. Instead, the government started a study and it took to 2022 to publish a report, which confirmed that medically unnecessary and non-consensual surgeries on intersex children continue to take place. Truth be told, all European countries score the least amount of points in this category. But that is no excuse. Principle 17 recommends that the Dutch government pays a study visit to Greece, as they score 50% in this category!


It is obvious that the Netherlands is no longer a frontrunner and hasn’t been so for years. In a modern society, we ought to avoid a situation where some people are ‘more equal’ than other people. That’s why Principle 17, with many others, calls our government to improve the human rights of LGBTI people in the Netherlands!


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