In a landmark move, Aruba’s Parliament voted late Thursday by a margin of 11-5 to amend the civil code related to marriage to include the civil unions of same-sex couples. The articles include things such as the right to a spouse’s pension in the event of death, as well as the right to make emergency medical decisions.
Aruba is one of a few Caribbean islands belonging to the Netherlands. Although the Netherlands was the first country to approve same sex unions back in 2001, until now same-sex couples had to marry in the Netherlands and could then return to Aruba to have their marriage certificate recognized.
While this bill does not explicitly recognize same-sex unions as marriages, it has the effect of legalizing same-sex marriage in all but name. Supporters of the bill hope to see Parliament pass a same-sex marriage bill in the near future.
Desiree de Sousa Croes, the lawmaker who introduced the bill, was among those who married in the Netherlands and returned to have the certificate recognized in Aruba, where many oppose same-sex unions on religious and cultural grounds.
“I would have wanted same-sex marriage,” Croes said after the vote. “But this amendment will eliminate the need to travel to the Netherlands to marry, as our laws will soon provide rights for same sex couples.”
Aruba has been under pressure in recent years from LGBT rights advocates to allow same-sex marriage but religious groups have opposed the effort. The opposition also fought civil unions as the bill came to a vote.
Neither of the other two Dutch Caribbean island nations, Saint Maarten or Curacao, allow same-sex marriages or civil unions.