The number of same-sex ''marriages'' has stabilized since the introduction of gay marriage in the Netherlands five years ago, according to new figures recently released by a Dutch governmental institution that gathers statistical information about the western European nation.
Statistics Netherlands, or "Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek" (CBS), said last Monday that 1,166 gay and lesbian couples got married in 2005, compared with 1,210 the year before. When the Netherlands became the first country in the world to introduce same-sex marriage in 2001, some 2,414 gay or lesbian couples married. There was also a rush to the registry office the following year when 1,838 same-sex couples tied the knot.
"There was an element of hype in 2001. Lots of people who had already been together for 30 or 40 years got married," explained Demographics professor Jan Latten at the CBS, according to the report by Netherlands-based Expatica. The numbers peaked in 2002.
"After that it decreased, he added. Everyone asked how this was possible because the opening up of marriage seemed to be so popular. It appears this peak was the 'start-up' effect. The figures in 2004 and 2005 were roughly equal.
Dr. Latten expects approximately 1,200 gay or lesbian marriages in 2006 as the marriage rate so far this year is at the same level as this time last year. He also expects the annual marriage rates to be similar from now on.
According to CBS, total number of marriages heterosexual and same-sex has fallen noticeably in the last five years. In 2001, 82,091 couples married compared with the 73,861 last year.
The institution also found that divorce rates between same-sex couples did not differ from heterosexual couples, but that lesbian couples who divorced tended to do so earlier than married gay men.
The Netherlands is one of a small handful of countries that have passed a law allowing homosexuals to enter a registered partnership since Denmark took the first dive in 1989. Others include Norway, Sweden, Germany, Belgium, Argentina, France, Spain, Canada, and most recently the Czech Republic.