photo: Pieter van Amsterdam

THE BOTTOM – “Since we are living on Saba I feel more comfortable. When we lived in the Netherlands, in public I had a feeling of persons staring at us, while on Saba this feeling is totally gone”, says Pieter van Amsterdam.

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By Esther Henry

In Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, marriage is open to same-sex and opposite-sex couples following the entry into force of a law, enabling same-sex couples to marry there on 10 October 2012.

Since then, the number of married same-sex couples on Saba has increased dramatically resulting in twenty-two marriages, according to the Census Office on Saba. These are marriages conducted with only Dutch nationals.

Raymond Huismans, Pieter’s partner of sixteen years, agrees with him. “In Holland it’s not as comfortable as it was twenty years ago being openly gay. It’s getting less accepted over there and here I am more comfortable showing my affection.”

Life on Saba
“Not all Caribbean islands accept it; however Saba is a special island. People are allowing others to live their life and they don’t ask questions. Saba is also a religious island but at the same time it’s not an issue when you live here. It’s not there! It may be there, but we don’t experience it”, says Amsterdam, who is also the director at Benevolent Healthcare Foundation Saba.

Huismans, an employee at ITC of the Public Entity of Saba: “I realized I was gay when I was young, it was always there. Luckily, during my childhood, I didn’t have any problems such as bullying.”

Settling for Saba
“We had a mutual friend who took us out to a New Year’s Eve party and we met there”, continues Huismans. “We’ve settled on Saba after a job offer. We decided to try it for one year and then we fell in love with the island, culture and people.”

Raymond and Pieter are getting married on Saba in April.

Courtney Usuga, a restaurant owner says: “Because I am close friends with Pieter and Raymond I’ve decided to MC their wedding reception. I believe there won’t be any sort of protest or violence at the wedding as people on Saba would keep quiet. I don’t see a difference between homosexual and heterosexual activities, we are all human.”

“I feel on Saba persons are sexually fluid, they don’t need to come out unless they are in former relationships. Persons don’t verbalize, rather live their lives – an unspoken ‘thing’ on Saba. Older persons and persons a bit younger than me must voice their sexuality due to a generational gap”, says bi and polysexual Lysanne Charles, director of Saba Reach Foundation.

“During the hiring process for my current job, it was a bit nerve-wrecking during the interview with persons knowing who I am. But in the end, I was still chosen due to my overall presentation as well as the foundation being well known in Saba,” concludes Charles.

Also read: Acceptance homosexuality increased on Saba