Mayor of Amsterdam Job Cohen presided over the marriages of five American-Dutch couples at the city’s Pride festival on Saturday.

The weddings were performed on a cruise and watched by around 560,000 thousand spectators.

Amsterdam legalised civil partnerships for both straight and gay couples in 1998. In 2001, it legalised gay marriage.

It is thought that one of the partners who married is from New York, which now recognises marriages performed in other states or countries.

Cohen performed the first legal ceremonies soon after the law came into power.

In an interview on Saturday, he said: “We’ve come really far, farther than we ever thought was possible in just a few years. There’s still a lot to do, that’s the message.”

“The message is, first, equal rights. I was involved early in getting gay rights into law, and it was a hell of a job to get it done.

“When we started almost ten years ago there was nowhere else that gays could marry, and now we see it in many places around the world, with still so many more countries to go.”

The ceremonies were also part of a celebration honouring 400 years of New York-Amsterdam relations.

Although polls show most Dutch citizens support gay marriage, gays still face problems. According to Amsterdam police estimates, 70 hate crimes toward gays are reported each year in the city, which has a population of 750,000.

On Friday evening, anti-gay vandals daubed “Homos Go to Hell” across a bridge the parade was going to cross.