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The Netherlands celebrates 20th anniversary of gay weddings

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Since the historic event in Amsterdam 20 years ago, same-sex marriage has been made legal in 28 countries worldwide, as well as the self-governing island of Taiwan.

Wearing suits and bow ties, they were married in a ceremony led by then-mayor of Amsterdam Job Cohen in a wedding that made headlines around the world.

Amsterdam also marked the anniversary by flying a huge rainbow flag from the bell tower of the landmark Wester Church next to the Anne Frank House museum.

Later, the city was holding an online symposium, and it designated a “rainbow walk” route along 20 sites considered important in the struggle for LGBTQ rights.

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In the city of Utrecht, care workers Romy Schouten and Jeannette van Nus marked the day by getting married in the city hall by Utrecht’s mayor, Sharon Dijksma.

“My sons and my nephews said, ‘why is there so much interest in you?’ We said that in many countries people like Romy and me are murdered,” Van Nus said after the wedding.

For Romy Schouten, who decided to take Jeannette’s family name Van Nus, the ceremony provoked special feelings.

“Of course, it’s a huge honor that it can happen like this with the mayor. It’s really nice, we’re honored,” she said.

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Dijksma said the ceremony should be an example for others.

“To all the boys and girls who are sitting at home and thinking maybe I fall for people of the same sex but I dare not say it, the message here is: You can be who you are,” Dijksma said.

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But COC, the country’s largest LGBTQ rights organization, also said that work toward full equality is not complete in the Netherlands even two decades after the first same-sex marriage.

LGBTQ people “still regularly face exclusion, violence and discrimination,” the organization said in a statement.

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