Ethnic minorities in Amsterdam
With 180 different nationalities and 45 per cent ethnic minorities, the population of Amsterdam is one of the most diverse in Europe. Over the last 50 years Amsterdam has known an influx of people originating from other countries and cultures, mostly from Suriname, Turkey and Morocco. It is expected that within the next ten years, half of the Amsterdam population will have been born abroad or will have parents or (great) grandparents who were born abroad.
As the City values the benefits that a diverse society has on city culture, it devotes substantial time, policy and funds to prevent the formation of ghettos in boroughs with an over-representation of ethnic minorities. Article 1 of the Dutch Constitution forbids discrimination on the grounds of a person's beliefs, race or sexual preferences and in 1996 the Municipality of Amsterdam added its own code of conduct for local authority staff to this article, as well as a complaints scheme and an anti-discrimination office.
The Municipality has installed five advisory bodies to assist it in its migrants policy. Further, the ethnic composition of the civil service in the city must reflect the population of the city and various programmes are in place to realise this.
Support for the emancipation of women and of people who are subject to discrimination based on their sexual preferences is part of the city's policy. The city pursues a specific emancipation policy and in 1995 installed the Ombudsman Service for Women to deal with complaints relating to the legal and social position of 'black, white and immigrant women' in Amsterdam. Addresses of more than a hundred help, advice and contact organisations are included in the 'Yellow Pages for Women' (Gele Gids voor Vrouwen) published by the Multicultural Emancipation Bureau.
The City of Amsterdam pursues an active policy to combat discrimination against LGBT residents and visitors. Darker times are remembered at the foot of the Westerkerk church with the Homomonument – a memorial consisting of three pink granite triangles. It is the only monument to the victims of persecution and discrimination of homosexuals in the world.
The city is listed by the International Gay Travel Association as one of the top destinations in East and West for gay travellers; 80 per cent of American homosexuals who visit Europe call in on Amsterdam.
Amsterdam's then-mayor, Job Cohen, acted as registrar at the country's first same-sex civil marriage ceremony at the Town Hall, held in the early hours of 1 April 2001. Four same-sex couples said 'I do' and placed their signatures in the register, for the first time enjoying the same legal status as heterosexual married couples. In his previous post as State Secretary for Justice, Cohen had been instrumental in ensuring that this legislation reached the statute book. The opening of civil marriage to same-sex couples was approved by the Dutch government in December 2000. The Netherlands had already introduced registration of same-sex partner-ships, another legal landmark, in 1998.