News - May 17, 2018

‘Your freedom stops where you restrict someone else’s’

Lieke de Kwant

Floor Biemans and her partner might want to get married some day and they are glad they live in a country where they can. But it pains Biemans that one in four Dutch MPs voted against gay marriage in 2000.

Floor Biemans received her PhD on 9 May for a study of the influence of genetics on the spread of infectious diseases in cows.

Proposition: In a civilised country, the entire parliament should vote in favour of gay marriage

‘I think representatives of the people should make a distinction between their own opinion and the law. Homosexuals contribute as much as anyone else to society: they work, pay their taxes, do voluntary work. So on what grounds do you deny them the right to get married? If you don’t want to marry someone of the same sex, fine, but who  are you to say someone else is not allowed to? If I don’t like Brussels sprouts, I don’t eat them. But I don’t forbid anyone else to eat them.

Opponents often bring up religious objections to gay marriage, but marriage ceased to be a religious institution long ago and non-religious people get married too. Making marriage accessible is just a reflection of a society’s social progress.

I personally have never experienced hostility but I still stand up for gay rights. And I was determined to include a proposition about them in my list. Visibility is important. The unknown is scary so you must make sure it becomes less unknown. 

No, according to my proposition, the Netherland is not a civilized country. Of course that is a loaded statement: it had to be provocative didn’t it? But I really do think it’s a pity that some MPs cannot separate their personal opinions from equal rights issues. You own freedom stops where you start restricting someone else’s.’