Liberal Holland

Holland is known all over the world for its liberal policies and a general attitude of tolerance towards social issues that most societies may find unpleasant or disapprove of. The Dutch people believe in the freedom of the individual and the open atmosphere which promotes free discussion and sharing of ideas. This has caused interest, not only in terms of administration but for its cultural and social impact on the country as well.

Drug policy:

The drug policies in the Netherlands arose from the need to control a burgeoning heroin market in the country in the 1970s. The government formed a commission to study the issue and recommend the appropriate solutions to the problem at hand. What resulted is a policy that legalized the use of certain recreational drugs such as cannabis, the introduction of heroin-assisted treatment and a set of guidelines with regards the use, sale, import and export of drugs. The policy recommended by the Baan Commission aimed to minimize the risks and hazards of drug use rather than to suppress all drug forms and their usage. Since adopting the liberal policy on drug use, Netherlands has come under fire by other countries who propose stiffer rules and guidelines to curb the worldwide problem of drug addiction and its attendant social evils.


As with drug use, the Dutch believes in adopting tolerance towards prostitution – deemed an illegal activity in almost all parts of the world – as a means to reduce the harm in the activity and be able to regulate it under the laws. The thinking behind the policy is that banning prostitution will not make the problem go away and makes it even more difficult to control. In the 20th century, prostitution in the Netherlands has officially become a legal profession, where brothels or sex establishments must get a license to operate and prostitutes are treated as single entrepreneurs or contractors, paying taxes and declaring their income to the government. They can also form and join work unions The local city health services also provide free or low cost health services to the prostitutes. The police also work with the local ministries in ensuring that the prostitutes and the establishments comply with existing laws – for instance, no minors or illegal aliens should be working as prostitutes in the country. Patrons, or those who want to engage the prostitutes’ services are also required to comply with the guidelines or else they are fined, or jailed.

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Rights:

The Dutch parliament has provided for a very open and tolerant system regarding various sexual orientations. Whilst most countries still struggle to contend and face these phenomena, Netherlands has spent the better part of the 1990s to the present time to recognize the rights of LBGTs. These include: the legalization of homosexuality; anti-discrimination laws in employment; same-sex marriages; the right to change legal gender; joint and step adoption of children by same-sex couples; anti-discrimination laws in providing equal access to all goods and services to LGBTs; anti-discrimination laws surrounding indirect discrimination, hate speech and hate crimes; access to in-vitro fertilization (IVF) for lesbians); and allowing gays to serve in the military.




“Mercy killing” or the practice of ending a life in a manner which supposedly relieves pain and suffering is a much-debated subject in medical and legal circles around the world.  Most countries still consider it a criminal activity. In the Netherlands however, euthanasia has been legalized since 2002.  The Dutch Euthanasia Act stipulates that euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide are not criminal activities provided the attending physician acts in accordance with the criteria of due care. The physician is also required to report euthanasia to a committee for review. There are six guidelines to observe before allowing and performing euthanasia.  Since the law was passed over 1,500 cases have already been officially reported as euthanasia, typically performed with the administration of poison or muscle relaxant through the patient’s IV to stop the breathing and cause death.


In 1984, abortion in the Netherlands was legalized.  The abortion law provides for several guidelines about allowing and performing the procedure.  Specific rules have to be observed, such as the following:

Clinics or hospitals need to be issued an official abortion certification by the government before they can perform such procedures. To date there are 17 abortion clinics and 108 hospitals that are certified to perform abortions.

Abortion is allowed at any point between conception and viability of the fetus, or until about 24 weeks into pregnancy.