Minister Plasterk champions equal rights and culture

POSTED: 11/6/12 12:26 PM

St. Maarten – Ronald Plasterk was sworn in as the successor of Liesbeth Spies as Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations yesterday. A member of the Labor Party PvdA, Plasterk has a rather superficial bond with the Caribbean.

He spent once a vacation in Curacao, in 2009, but that’s about it. In that same year, as the Dutch minister of culture, he made €8 million ($10.4 million) available to the then Netherlands Antilles for the restoration of valuable monuments.

A year earlier, in August 2008, Plasterk supported together with Kingdom Relations State Secretary Ank Bijleveld-Schouten same sex marriage in the Antilles.

His statement was a reaction to an initiative by the Antillean Education Minister Omayra Leeflang who appealed a court ruling that gave a married gay couple the right to register as married with a local healthcare insurer in Willemstad.

Leeflang’s action came after the Supreme Court had already ruled in April 2007 that a marriage closed in the Netherlands is valid throughout the Kingdom and that married partners – also if they are gay –are entitled to the same rights as married hetero couples.

Leeflang argued that this way same sex marriage would be introduced in the Antilles via the court instead of via the body politic.

Plasterk and Bijleveld stood by article 40 of the Kingdom Charter that states that marriages closed in the Netherlands are valid throughout the Kingdom. The census office is therefore obliged to register married same sex couples as married when they settle down in the islands.

Plasterk was born April 12, 1957. He was Minister of Education, Culture and Science in the cabinet Balkenende IV from February 22, 2007 until February 23, 2010. After the fall of this cabinet he returned as a member of parliament from June 17, 2010 until yesterday.

Plasterk is a prize-winning molecular geneticist.

The new minister is married and has two children. He is a member of the Royal Christian Oratory Association Excelsior in Amsterdam where he sings as a tenor, according to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. Plasterk takes part in the annual recital of the Mattheüs Passion of Johan Sebastian Bach. He plays the guitar and counts literature, painting and photography as his hobbies.

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