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Aruba: Same-Sex Partnerships Recognized by Law

(Sept. 23, 2016) On September 8, 2016, the Parliament of Aruba, one of the constituent countries that comprise the Kingdom of the Netherlands, voted to amend the Aruban Civil Code provisions on marriage so as to officially recognize same-sex registered partnerships. The amendment will give same-sex couples the same benefits granted to married partners under the Code, such as the right to pension benefits in the case of a spouse’s death and the right to make medical decisions on the spouse’s behalf.  (Aruba Parliament Approves Civil Unions for Same-Sex Couples, CURAÇAO CHRONICLE (Sept. 12, 2016); Steven Wildberger, Aruba Votes To Recognize Same-Sex Unions, PAPER CHASE (Sept.10, 2016); Boek 1 Personen- en familierecht [Book 1: Persons and Family Law], Landsverordening bevattende de tekst van Boek 1 voor een nieuw Burgerlijk Wetboek van Aruba [State Ordinance Containing the Text of Book 1 of a New Civil Code of Aruba], AB 2001 no. 89 (as last amended effective 2013), CENTRAAL WETTENREGISTER (Jan. 13, 2014) (click on pdf icon to view); Boek 4: Erfrecht [Book 4: Succession], Landsverordening bevattende de tekst van Boek 1 voor een nieuw Burgerlijk Wetboek van Aruba, AB 1989 no. GT 100 (as last amended 2013), CENTRAAL WETTENREGISTER (Jan. 13, 2014) (click on pdf icon to view).)

The 21-member unicameral legislature approved the amendment in an 11-5 vote, with four members abstaining. (Aruba Parliament Approves Civil Unions for Same-Sex Couples, supra.)  In the past, same-sex couples would have to marry in the Netherlands and then have their marriage certificate recognized in Aruba under a law that requires recognition of official documents throughout the Kingdom of the Netherlands.  Now, same-sex partners will no longer have to go through this process; while they cannot marry in Aruba, their rights as partners in a civil union will be recognized.  (Id.)  Reportedly, Sint Maarten and Curacao, the other two Caribbean constituent countries of the Kingdom, do not allow same-sex marriage or registered partnerships.  (Id.)

The formalization of relations between people of the same sex has been a sensitive issue in Aruba, which is predominantly Catholic, and debate on the new legislation is reported to have sharply divided the island population. Prior to the passage of the amending law there were large demonstrations over it near the Parliament in the capital city of Oranjestad. (Aruba staat partnerregistratie homo’s toe, REFORMATORISCH DAGBLAD (Sept. 9, 2016).)