It's important to look back and remember significant milestones in history, especially when they played a major part in making the world a better and more equitable place for all. Just 20 years ago, four same-sex couples made history when they were married at the stroke of midnight on April 1 in Amsterdam. It was then that the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. “There are two reasons to rejoice,″ Amsterdam’s then-Mayor Job Cohen told the couples after officiating the ceremonies. ″You are celebrating your marriage, and you are also celebrating your right to be married.″
In a world where, in many countries, Pride is now an annual celebration and LGBTQ+ rights are much more widely accepted, 20 years might sound shockingly recent. However, with that historic ceremony, the Netherlands became a trailblazer—leading by example in the effort for LGBTQ+ rights around the world. Today, the country celebrates the pivotal two-decade milestone with a variety of events that include a large inflatable pink cake with rainbow-flamed candles floating down Amsterdam’s iconic canals.
All four of the history-making couples have stood the test of time and now celebrate their 20th anniversary with the rest of the world, though one of the men, Frank Wittebrood, died of a heart attack in 2011 at the age of 55.
Since that night 20 years ago, 28 countries worldwide have followed the Netherlands ’ example by legalizing same-sex marriage. Though the fight for LGBTQ+ rights is far from over, this historic event gave hope to many around the world and continues to light the way towards a better future.
At the stroke of midnight on April 1, 2001, four same-sex couples were married in Amsterdam as the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.
Today, the country celebrates the historic milestone—marking it by floating a large pink cake with rainbow candles down Amsterdam's iconic canals.
Have a look back at this historic moment when the Netherlands became a trailblazer in the global fight for LGBTQ+ rights.