COC Netherlands

COC Netherlands is a foundation that supports the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community in the Netherlands and all around the world. Joel Sunglasses is a queer-owned brand thus, we are really proud to support their cause and support them with a monthly donation! In this blog we will help you find out a bit more about COC, their accomplishments throughout the years and a guidance on how to get also involved!

COC Netherlands has been advocating the rights of lesbian women, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people (LGBT’s) from 1946 on. COC strives for the decriminalization of sexual orientation and gender identity and for equal rights, emancipation and social acceptance of LGBT’s in the Netherlands and all over the world.

Altina Schinasi

Involved In Many Aspects

COC Netherlands is involved in many aspects of LGBTI rights, with a focus on youth & school, 50+, safety, culture & religion and international issues. COC Netherlands is a federation that consists of 20 local associations. So, wherever you live in the Netherlands, there’s always a COC in the neighborhood.

Power From Within

The way COC works can be defined as inside-out: they support LGBTI people and groups and empower them to make a change from within their own community or organization. This power from within ultimately has a stronger effect than a top down approach. Plus: we are convinced that we accomplish so much more when we act together in the fight for emancipation, social acceptance and equal rights.


The people COC calls Frontliners are activists that play a key role in our inside-out approach. They are the driven and motivated people that act in the front line of the process of social acceptance. A lesbian pupil who starts a Gender and Sexuality Alliance at her school with our support. A bisexual man from a cultural, ethnic or religious minority that we help to start the discussion within his community about what it means to be bi. A transwoman from Uganda that we provide a platform to address violations of human rights of LGBTI people at  a United Nations conference.

Some Facts & Figures

Homosexuality or homosexual acts are punishable in 69 countries, in six countries even by the death penalty. HIV infections are ten times higher in countries where homosexual acts are a criminal offense. Every year more than two hundred transgender people around the world are murdered because of their gender identity.

Proud Accomplishments

COC supports LGBTI organizations in Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Africa and SouthEast Asia. This allows them to open their own office, start health and rights programs, build strong communities, organize pride events and lobby for better laws.

COC has a special consultative status with the United Nations which enabled us to contribute to the UN resolutions against the violation of LGBT human rights.

Every year COC supports dozens of LGBTI activists to lobby for their rights at meetings of organizations such as the United Nations and the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights.

Thanks to COC advocacy the Dutch asylum policy improved in favor of LGBTI’s. No longer can they be sent back to their home country if this means going back ‘in the closet’. LGBT’s are for example no longer sent back to Iraq or Iran.

Historic victory: Senate definitively enshrines LGBTI+ rights in the Constitution!

January 17, 2023

The rights of LGBTI+ individuals are enshrined definitively in Article 1 of the Constitution. On Tuesday 17 January, the Senate voted in favor of a bill by D66, GroenLinks and PvdA. The COC, which has been advocating for the law change for almost 20 years, is happy and speaks of a historic victory for the rainbow community.

“This is a historic victory for the rainbow community and a crown on the years of commitment of the COC,” said a happy COC chairman Astrid Oosenbrug. “We are extremely grateful to Alexander Hammelburg, Laura Bromet, Habtamu de Hoop and their predecessors for their extensive work on this bill.” “It was an emotional moment when, after all these years, the Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of Constitutional recognition this afternoon. At last, LGBTI+ rights are proudly mentioned in Article 1 and are no longer concealed.”

According to Oosenbrug, the Constitutional Amendment is “a task for today’s politicians to tackle discriminatory violence, bullying at school and other forms of discrimination.”

“An anchoring in the Constitution is a guarantee that we will still be able to enjoy our hard-won rights in fifty or a hundred years time,” says Oosenbrug. “That we can still get married in the future, raise children and be protected against discrimination. Even if the political or social wind unexpectedly turns against the rainbow community.”

The COC has been advocating for the anchoring of LGBTI+ rights in the Constitution for almost 20 years. The battle started in April 2004 with a call from COC’s National Working Group on Politics to the House of Representatives. Various notes and reports followed, but the government did not come up with a proposal. In 2010, D66, GroenLinks and PvdA submitted their own-initiative bill. At the time, that proposal could not yet count on the necessary two-thirds majority. It came after COC’s Rainbow Agreements of 2017 and 2021 and a major public campaign in 2019 at Pride Amsterdam.

LGBTI+ human rights are already enshrined in the Constitution in countries such as Sweden, Portugal, Malta, Mexico and South Africa. In our country, LGBTI+ rights are not yet enshrined in the Constitution, while in 2001, for example, the Netherlands was the first country in the world to open marriage to same-sex couples. The lack of a constitutional prohibition of LGBTI+ discrimination is one of the reasons that the Netherlands is now in thirteenth place in Europe of countries where LGBTI+ human rights are well regulated.

A constitutional amendment must be passed twice by the House of Representatives and the Senate, the second time with a two-thirds majority. Tuesday’s Senate hearing was the final step in this long process.

The proposal by D66, GroenLinks and PvdA adds the terms ‘sexual orientation‘ and ‘disability‘ to Article 1 of the Constitution. Article 1 already explicitly mentions religion, belief, political opinion, race and gender as prohibited grounds for discrimination. The addition of ‘handicap’ is a much-cherished wish of Elkedin, the organization for people with a disability from chronic illness. A wish that the COC certainly wholeheartedly supports.

Altina Schinasi

Gender identity and sex characteristics

COC filings confirmed to the government and petitioners many times during the consideration of this bill that the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of ‘gender’ – already enshrined in the Constitution – also constitutionally protects people against discrimination on the basis of gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics .

The bill that is now before the House was originally introduced by Boris van der Ham, Naïma Azough and Anja Timmer and previously defended by Vera Bergkamp, Nevin Özütok and Kirsten van den Hul. The COC is extremely grateful to all proposers and their collaborators for the hard work they have put into this proposal.

How To Get Involved!

Otgoo Tsedendemberel from Mongolia managed to address LGBT issues with his government in Mongolia. With the support of COC he attended several UN assemblies. There he managed to convince his government to publicly promise to end discrimination and violation of human rights of LGBT’s in his country for the first time ever in the Mongolian history.

Support international activities of COC with your donation.

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