Gay lobby group COC Netherlands has again asked for an investigation into the penalisation of homosexuals in the 20th century. The COC is making this urgent request in a letter to the Dutch Lower House and Minister Ollongren, Secretary of State for the Home Department.
"It is time to get to the bottom of this," says COC President Astrid Oosenbrug. Earlier this year, Minister Ollongren informed the Lower House on the research that she will initiate into the so-called 'gay lists': lists of job applicants who were rejected in the mid-twentieth century when applying for a job as civil servant. The reason: they were homosexual.
In October, COC Netherlands proposed broadening this investigation to other forms of punishment of gays by the Dutch government in the last century, for instance the old criminal law article 248bis that discriminated against homosexuals, as well as the harassment of homosexuals by the vice squad. GroenLinks Member of Parliament Nevin Özütok submitted this request of the COC on behalf of Parliament to Minister Ollongren.
On December 17th, Minister Ollongren replied that the COC "was getting ahead of the case," and that the outcome of her investigation should be awaited first. The COC in turn communicated to the Lower House that there must be a misunderstanding between the Minister and the interest group. “Waiting for the outcomes would simply mean we are too late to adjust the scope of the investigation,” said Oosenbrug.
Until 1971, the discriminatory article 248bis of the Penal Code stipulated that homosexual contacts with persons between the ages of 16 and 21 were punishable by law, while heterosexual contacts with persons of that age were (and are) not punishable. Some 2,500 people received prison sentences of three to six months, which resulted into personal dramas in the lives of homosexuals.
Most of the 20th century, the vice squad harassed persons who were (possibly) homosexual, while these people had done nothing wrong. Without any legal basis, they kept records with card systems and photo albums of suspected homosexuals. Employers, parents and landlords were informed about the subject’s (presumed) homosexuality, with far-reaching consequences for their personal lives.
According to COC Netherlands, the gay lists, the government's actions as an employer, the behaviour of the vice squad, as well as article 248bis can only be viewed as a package and not separately. In countries, such as the United Kingdom and Ireland, research is also being conducted into the punishment of homosexuals by the government in the 20th century.