27th February 2008 – PinkNews
Princess to attend gay meeting and discuss prejudice
by Tony Grew
In an announcement described by LGBT activists as "historically significant," a spokesman for the Dutch Royal Family has confirmed that the country’s future Queen will attend a gay rights conference. Argentinean-born Princess Maxima, the wife of Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, will meet delegates from Holland’s major cities at the event and speak out against the exclusion of gay people. A royal spokesman said: "The Princess is in favour of equal rights of all groups in the Netherlands." The 36-year-old Royal, who has three daughters, is married to the heir to the throne, the Prince of Orange.
Frank Van Dalen of Dutch gay rights group COC said: "This will be a historically significant royal presence. This is what we have been hoping for a very, very long time. It is the first time a member of the Royal Family has attended a meeting with such significance for gays." Holland has a reputation as one of the most tolerant countries in the world. In 2001 it was the first country in the world to allow same-sex marriages. Amsterdam’s image as the ‘gay capital of the world’ also under threat, however. A substantial increase in homophobic attacks in the city has been reported over the last few years, leading two of the government coalition parties – Labour and the Christian Democrats – to call for tougher punishments for anti-gay violence.
In August 2007 half of Dutch gays said they feel less safe than they did a year ago in a survey carried out by current affairs programme EenVandaag. Sixty-four per cent of anti-gay incidents were verbal but 12 per cent resulted in physical abuse. Of the 23,000 people questioned, including 1,980 gays and lesbians, 61 per cent still maintained the Netherlands is a gay-friendly country
4th March 2008 – PinkNews
Dutch stand up for gays at UN Human Rights council
by PinkNews.co.uk staff writer
The Foreign Minister of the Netherlands today told an international meeting that gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans people deserve equal rights. Maxime Verhagen made his remarks at the opening session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva. In a wide-ranging speech he highlighted the rights of "children in Uzbekistan picking cotton for long hours for little or no wages" and proposed the EU move to ban on the sale of goods that have been produced "using any form of slavery or practice similar to slavery, such as debt bondage, serfdom or forced or compulsory labour."
"This year marks the sixtieth anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," he said. "This unique document sets down the ‘values of the world’: justice, equality, solidarity, humanity and liberty. Human rights reflect these values; they are what bind us together in this world. Human rights are not a Western invention. In 85 countries, homosexuality is still punishable by law and people can be prosecuted because of their sexual orientation. In five countries in the world, Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen, consensual sexual acts by people of the same sex are even capital crimes. There is no excuse for the humiliation and exclusion of homosexual people, let alone for imposing the death penalty on them. Decriminalising homosexuality and countering discrimination based on sexual orientation are priorities within Dutch human rights policy. The Dutch government subscribes to the Yogyakarta Principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity. I call upon other states to embrace these principles as well. Tradition, culture or religion must never be used to justify the violation of human rights."
The Yogyakarta Principles, named after the Indonesian city whey they were adopted, were launched in March 2007 by 29 international human rights experts at a UN Human Rights Council session. They address issues such as rape and gender-based violence, extrajudicial executions, torture and medical abuses, repressions of free speech and discrimination in the public services. Last year 54 member states of the UN Human Rights Council asked the council to act against violations of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The UN Human Rights Council was established in 2006, and is holding its seventh session in Geneva from 3rd to 28th March.
May 02, 2008 – Time
Gay Marriage Costs Him Citizenship
by Bruce Crumley/Paris
Frenchman Frederic Minvielle has been a productive, happy resident of the Netherlands for the past six years, and even married a Dutch national in 2003. But his placid existence took on Kafkaesque twist earlier this year, when French authorities informed Minvielle that his expatriate idyll had cost him his French citizenship. The main reason, according to Minvielle and his supporters: because his spouse was another man. The Netherlands recognizes official gay unions, but France does not. That, in essence, is what led to the revocation of Minvielle’s French citizenship, though the bilateral Franco-Dutch immigration accords pertaining to the case are complex.
The trouble began when Minvielle adopted his Dutch husband’s citizenship in 2006 — a right extended to foreign spouses of officially wed couples in the Netherlands, whether gay or heterosexual. Indeed, Minvielle says the main motivation for his naturalization was to show gratitude to a Dutch society that makes no distinction between gay and heterosexual marriages. Although the Franco-Dutch immigration treaty pertaining to his situation generally forces nationals from one country to surrender their original citizenship when naturalized in the other, there is a key exception that allows dual citizenship accorded through marriage. Minvielle figured that would work for him.
"France does not recognize marriage between people of the same sex as the Netherlands does, and therefore considers Mr. Minvielle an unwed man living with another man," explains Minvielle’s French lawyer, Caroline Mecary. Because of that, she says, France has applied the bilateral accord the way it would to any single French national adopting Dutch nationality: by revoking French citizenship. "It marks French exportation of marriage laws discriminatory to same-sex couples to its citizens abroad," Mecary continues. "In this case, that means applying French laws to a citizen with the result of stripping him of that very citizenship. That has proven to be a staggering loss to Mr. Minvielle." Minvielle was not available to respond to TIME’s requests to discuss his case, but he has told French media he feels humiliated and repudiated by his native country. In addition to feeling cast off by his motherland, he says, Minvielle has also said being shorn of the liberties and legal rights attendant to French citizenship has left him feeling like he’s been treated as a criminal.
Ironically, it was his effort to exercise his rights and duties as a citizen that led to Minvielle’s troubles. Following his visit to the French embassy in Amsterdam in late 2006 to register for France’s then approaching presidential elections, consular officials forwarded Minvielle’s dossier to justice authorities for examination. When the review ruled that he had surrendered his French citizenship according to terms of the bilateral accord — and in light of France’s refusal to recognize gay marriage — Minvielle was ordered to surrender his passport and French papers last December. Despite the summons, Minvielle has held on to his French documents, and is fighting to have his citizenship restored.
There may be hope of that happening. Mecary says she has been told by French and European authorities that France has applied to revise the terms of its bilateral accords with the Netherlands to take into account social and legal changes that have taken place in both countries since its last update in 1996. Though Mecary says she’s still awaiting official confirmation of that move, she notes it would only be the first hurdle. "When it comes to decisions of citizenship, especially revocations based on legal grounds, the state is entirely free to do as it chooses," she warns.
Still, Mecary hopes France will do right by native son Minvielle, if for no other reason than to avoid more bad publicity over gay rights. Last January, Mecary notes, the European Court of Justice overturned French court rulings barring a single lesbian from adopting a child, judging French regulations blocking the adoption to be discriminatory. Meanwhile, France’s history of social enlightenment and pride as the birthplace of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been overshadowed as nations like Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands have passed progressive laws on gay rights while the French have lagged behind. Given that, critics argue the real solution to resolving Minvielle’s case isn’t tinkering with bilateral treaties, but modernizing marriage laws in France
May 09, 2008 – Finding Dulcinea
Gay Couple in Netherlands Helps Raise 100 Children
by Shannon Firth
Despite increasing public acceptance, gay couples often face opposition when trying to adopt, and debate continues.
25 years ago, Aad and Ron Dissel de Boo, a gay couple living in Holland, became foster parents to two abused boys “almost as a gesture of ill will” by the Welfare agency. They have since fostered more than 100 children. Public acceptance of gay parents appears to be on the rise. A 2007 Pew poll stated that 46 percent of respondents believed gay and lesbian parents should be allowed to adopt, compared with 38 percent in 1999. The American Psychology Association supports same-sex couple adoption, and in the past two decades at least 15 studies of more than 500 children showed that children of gay or lesbian parents are not disadvantaged.
However, many social conservatives like Dr. James Dobson disagree, claiming: “[T]he majority of more than 30 years of social-science evidence indicates that children do best on every measure of well-being when raised by their married mother and father.” An ACLU press release rejects old rhetoric like Dobson’s, stating, “Children without homes do not have the option of choosing between a married mother and father or some other type of parent(s).” Opposition to gay adoption often overlaps with concerns over homosexuality being “contagious.” Blogger Greta Cristina believes the gay community is fixated on persuading straight people that children they raise will not necessarily turn out to be gay.
June 6, 2008 – PinkNews
Muslim gang attacks gay catwalk model
by Tony Grew
Gay people in Holland have been shocked by a public attack on a gay man in Amsterdam. Model Mike Du Pree was taking part in a fashion show to promote tolerance towards gay people when a gang of ten Muslim youths dragged him from the catwalk and beat him. A right wing Dutch MP has called for the youths to be deported. Mr Du Pree’s nose was broken in the attack, which was motivated by homophobia. The fashion event was held on a public holiday marking the birth of Holland’s late Queen Julianna. Newspaper Gay Krant reports that a bystander intervened as the model was being beaten and a fight erupted. Fashion show organiser Jennifer Delano told the paper that the atmosphere at the event was tense, and that the violence shows Amsterdam is no longer a tolerant city.
"Mike got dragged down by his arm," she said. "They pinched him, he defended himself and then the guys of immigrant background started to hit him." Police arrived on the scene but it is unclear whether the ten homophobic Muslim youths were arrested or charged. MPs have raised the incident in Parliament. "This shows how strong the Islamic gay bashers feel they are," said Party of Freedom MP Martin Bosma. "Even at daylight, on Queen’s Day, in the heart of Amsterdam, they strike. Only the hardest measures could turn this sick trend. The Dutch nationality of the gay bashers of Rembrandt Square should immediately be taken from them and they should be expelled from the country today. The Netherlands can show no mercy for these people who damage our society in this way. Either they will win, or we will win."
In December the mayor of Amsterdam commissioned academics to study a spate of attacks on gay people in the city. A substantial increase in homophobic attacks in the capital has been reported over the last few years. More than half of Dutch gays feel less safe than they did a year ago, a survey carried out in August by current affairs programme EenVandaag revealed. Sixty-four per cent of anti-gay incidents were verbal but 12 per cent resulted in physical abuse. Amsterdam’s image in the Netherlands as the ‘gay capital of the world’ is also under threat as the survey revealed gays there were more fearful than in other parts of country. Of the 23,000 people questioned, including 1,980 gays and lesbians, 61 per cent still maintained the Netherlands is a gay-friendly country.
The government of Holland has committed itself to the active promotion of acceptance of LGBT people in the light of several high-profile homophobic attacks in the country. In a memorandum on the 2008 Budget, the coalition government’s Cabinet said that respect for difference is a basic condition of Dutch society. They committed millions of euros to fight homophobia and promote acceptance. The University of Amsterdam has been commissioned by the city’s mayor to carry out the research into homophobic attacks.
08 June 2008 – Radio Netehrlands
Dutch gala raises 800,000 Euros for HIV/Aids help in Africa
A yearly benefit gala in the Dutch capital Amsterdam has raised a record 800,000 euros for HIV/Aids research in Africa and Asia. The AmsterdamDinner was attended by more than 1,100 guests and saw a host of musicians perform for free. The funds will be used to follow the development of some 4,000 HIV/Aids patients in 25 African and Asian countries over the next five years. In many developing countries HIV/Aids drugs are not available and their cost can be prohibitive.
For more information go to:
http://www.pharmaccess.org/RunScript.asp?page=24&Article_ID=65&NWS=NWS&ap=NewsDetail.asp&p=ASP~Pg24.asp: http://www.hifund.nl/index2.php: http://www.hifund.nl/page.php?
June 3, 2008 – COC– Netherlands
COC–Netherlands Becomes First LGBT NGO to be Recommended for Consultative Status by United Nations NGO Committee
With much excitement we are happy to report that COC Netherlands was recommended today for consultative status by the ECOSOC NGO Committee. The NGO Committee is a UN body of 19 member states from all UN regions who’s responsibility includes evaluating NGO applications for consultative status lodged with the UN. COC is the first LGBT NGO to receive a positive recommendation from the NGO Committee, in the last few years, setting therefore a positive precedent in the LGBT organizations’ struggle at the UN. Prior applications from LGBT NGOs were rejected by the NGO Committee, and later approved by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the NGO Committee’s parent body (see background at the end of this message).
The positive recommendation for COC Netherlands came as a result of a vote called for by the UK in the last hour of the NGO Committee session. States voted as follows: In favor of granting the consultative status: 7 ( Columbia , Dominica , Israel , Peru , Romania , UK , US) Against granting the status: 6 (China, Egypt, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Suda ) Abstentions: 5 Angola, Burundi, Guinea, Indi , Turke ) Not present: Cuba Burundi is the country that made the difference. They abstained this time instead of voting against (as they did for instance at the January 2008 session of the NGO Committee when the application of the Spanish LGBT Federation was rejected). The NGO Committee works by consensus, so the motions for a vote are rare. The next and final step for COC Netherlands and FELGT Spain is to be considered by ECOSOC at its meeting in July 2008 in New York .
During this second session in 2008 (May 29-June 6), the NGO Committee also considered a new application from Lestime, a lesbian women’s group from Geneva , Switzerland , and the deferred application from the Brazilian LGBT Federation (ABGLT). Both NGOs received more questions from NGO Committee members and were deferred without a vote to the NGO Committee session in January 2009. Like in the past, the questions posed by certain NGO Committee members to the applicant NGOs revolved around sexual crimes (particularly pedophilia/relation s with people under the age of consent), explaining their organzations’ relationship with ILGA, discussing their independence from government, as well as presenting their internal governance mechanism.
Two new questions appeared in this session’s comments from Egypt , Qatar , and Pakistan . One is whether the LGBT NGOs recognized genders beyond male/female. Qatar ‘s questions in particular showed confusion between gender and sexual orientation. The other (rhetorical) question was which international human rights treaties explicitly refer to sexual orientation/ LGBT people. The Yogyakarta Principles also made their way into the NGO Committee’s session. Egypt asked COC to express their position in regards to the Yogyakarta Principles, which they introduced as a "Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but only for homosexuals. " Overall, their questions become more complex, and more numerous. Please see the list of typical questions at the end of this message. In the explanation of the vote, the UK reiterated a principle they have been stressing across all NGO Committee sessions, "we may disagree with an NGO, but it does not mean that we should exclude them." Romania added " this is a break through for this committee, especially as regards the values and principles we are defending in this distinguished forum."
Congratulations to COC and to Björn van Roozendaal in particular who represented COC here in NY. Björn actually joins me in signing this statement, although at this very moment he must be just taking off from NY for Amsterdam . Sincere thank you to the supportive delegations in the NGO Committee (and this includes those who abstained!) Let’s enjoy this news and then begin planning for the next steps at the ECOSOC session in July, as well as for the NGO Committee session in January 2009, when a larger number of LGBT applications are pending.
Thank you to ILGA-Europe for facilitating my pass to the UN, on the basis of their consultative status.
Adrian Coman / IGLHRC
The consultative status at the UN allows NGOs to work directly on human rights and other issues of importance to the LGBT community by ensuring access to UN meetings, delivery of oral and written reports, and organizing events to facilitate understanding of the abuse and discrimination that LGBT people face around the world.
ECOSOC consists of 54 member states of the United Nations, drawn from the five UN regions: Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the West.
Three European LGBT NGOs were granted consultative status by ECOSOC in December 2006: The Danish National Association for Gay and Lesbians (LBL), The European Region of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA-Europe) , and the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany (LSVD). Two groups, Coalition gaie et lesbienne du Québec (CGLQ) and the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL), were granted consultative status by ECOSOC in July 2007. The US-based International Wages Due Lesbians and Australian-based Coalition of Activist Lesbians have had consultative status at the UN for years. The International Lesbian and Gay Association, succeeded in its effort to gain entry to the UN in the early nineties only to be stripped of the status at the urging of former United States Senator Jesse Helms, a long-time opponent of the LGBT community.
The questions from the opponent states put LGBT NGOs in a defensive position, associating LGBT issues with sexual issues (especially sexual crimes such as pedophilia), purposely ignoring the human rights missions of these organizations.
Typical questions reflecting a lack of correct information about sexual orientation and gender identity:
* Whether homosexuals are also pedophiles/ or the organization promotes or condones pedophilia; how the organization screens their members to make sure they don’t promote or condone pedophilia
* Whether NGOs have activities that expose people under the age of consent
to sexual activities/sexual abuse; generally, details about the NGO’s work with young people and how the NGO ensures the activities do not harm young people
* Whether homosexuality is temporary or permanent in one’s life/whether one can be ‘taught’ to be a homosexual
*Whether the NGO has a charitable mission and whether the mission is compatible with the UN charter
*Whether the organization has responded to a questionnaire sent by the NGO Committee to ILGA in June 1995, which to be re-sent by ILGA to member organizations, on whether they promote or condone pedophilia. Whether the organization can state now that they do not promote or condone pedophilia.
*Whether the organization supports the right to sexual determination / to explore one’s sexuality relevance of international human rights instruments to LGBT
Questions directly related to requirements of resolution 1996/31:
* Whether the NGO is independent from government, in particular the extent to which the NGO budget comes from government funds
* Why the European applicant NGOs do not use the consultative status already granted by ECOSOC to ILGA-Europe in 2006, given that ILGA-Europe is an umbrella organization. What added value would the consultative status bring to the NGO’s work if granted, what plans the organization has for work at the UN (what the actual contribution of the NGO can be to the UN system)
* What is the decision-making process within the organization/ or the accountability/ governance mechanism
16 June 2008 – Minbuza.nl
Secretaris-generaal Ed Kronenburg op de HIV/aids conferentie te New York: Human rights, pragmatism and political courage: a powerful combination
Mr President, Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen
Our goal is to curb the spread of HIV and to mitigate the impact of the AIDS pandemic. But to do so effectively, we need to take into account the following three pre-conditions:
• political courage
• respect for human rights, and
• an effective, pragmatic, and inclusive approach
This powerful combination is a recipe for success. I will start with human rights.
Human rights are at the core of our foreign policy. Human rights as laid down in the Universal Declaration apply to all people, in all places, at all times. They determine and protect our collective standards of human dignity. This implies that tradition, culture or religion can never serve as an excuse for not respecting people’s rights, such as the sexual and reproductive rights of men and women. Sexual minorities like the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities have the right to be guaranteed a life free of discrimination.
Respect for human rights is also at the core of our actions on development cooperation. People and communities are not just recipients, they are also active participants. Human rights form the basis of our response to the AIDS pandemic. AIDS activists have successfully claimed access to treatment as a human right, not as an act of charity. This strong and focused advocacy has helped transform our thinking on HIV/AIDS specifically. AIDS programmes need to respond to the specific needs of people, and should not be based on judgments about gender, sexual orientation or behaviour.
As well as making human rights a starting point, we need to follow an effective, pragmatic and inclusive approach!
• We know that treatment can prevent mother-to-child transmission.
• We know that women with access to education, health and income are less vulnerable to HIV infection. It goes without saying that women should have access to means of protecting themselves, like the female condom.
• We know that evidence-based comprehensive sex education at school in combination with access to commodities will avert risky behaviour.
• We know that HIV testing is the starting point for treatment, changing behaviour and curbing the pandemic, and we know that an integrated approach to HIV and TB is essential.
• We know that poverty reduction contributes to reduction of inequities in all its features: income, education, employment, health status and vulnerability.
• We know that meaningful participation of young people increases the effectivity of HIV interventions.
• We know that sex workers who are empowered and have access to condoms and health services do protect themselves from HIV infection.
• We know that greater involvement of and investment in the most affected groups, like people living with HIV, migrants, and prisoners, is crucial for an effective response.
• And we know that comprehensive harm reduction programmes are effective in preventing HIV transmission among injecting drug users. This implies needle exchange and substitution treatment. In this context, consistency in policies on drugs and HIV is essential, not only at the country level but also throughout the UN system.
In addition to investing in proven interventions, we also have to invest in new and better prevention options, such as vaccines and microbicides. But respect for human rights and pragmatism – building on what works – are not enough to stop the speading of HIV!
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is great that we are all here to join forces in the fight against HIV/AIDS, focussing on our collective target of achieving Universal Access in 2010. We have discussed the issues on the table on previous occasions. It is now time to act! Political courage remains the starting point for all our actions. It takes political courage to stand up for the rights of people living with HIV, AIDS orphans, and those most vulnerable to HIV infection. It also requires courage to talk openly about sexuality, sexual relations, drug use, and the need for gender equality. It takes political will to translate our words into action.
Respect for human rights, pragmatism and – above all – political courage: a powerful mix. Let’s act now and do what we said we would do.
Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken
2500 EB Den Haag
Tel.: 070-3 486 486
Fax: 070-3 484 848
30 July 2008 – Radio Netherlands
Not all plain sailing for Gay Pride
by Mike Wilcox
Amsterdam is gearing up for the high point of gay pride week this Saturday when lesbians, gays and their friends take part in a boat parade through the city’s canals. More politicians are jumping aboard for Canal Pride, with three more ministers announcing they intend to take part in the parade. Their boat will sail under the (English) motto ‘Simply Gay’. However, opposition MP Boris van der Ham (pictured below), whose progressive liberal D’66 party has had a boat in the gay parade for years, is trying to make it anything but plain sailing for the government. He welcomes the good intentions, but says there are "still Dutch laws which discriminate against homosexuals". His party wants to amend the article in the constitution that outlaws discrimination by adding homosexuals to the list of those who enjoy constitutional protection. The Christian Democrat-led ruling coalition is also under fire for allowing civil servants to opt out of performing marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples.
For the second year in a row, a gay umbrella organisation is running a poster campaign during Gay Pride under the slogan: Believe in Love. The aim is to make homosexuality a topic that can be talked about within religious families. The posters depicting families which are evidently Christian, Islamic or Jewish, with homosexual family members and their same-sex partners. Last year’s campaign was more overtly political, with posters showing men wearing football shirts making love. This did not just allude to anti-gay sentiments within the game. It also referred to the fact that Amsterdam Council had withdrawn permission for several gay street parties. The reason given was that there were not enough officers to police the events because of a match between Amsterdam’s Ajax football team and British side Arsenal.
Finally, in what may not be just a coincidental move, the Dutch Trades Union Federation is launching a ‘pink network’ to fight against homophobia in the workplace. A union spokesman illustrates the problem: "Teachers, for example, daren’t be open about their sexuality because students are increasingly intolerant."
July 31, 2008 – The Wall Street Journal
Dutch Cabinet Participates in Amsterdam Gay Pride
Amsterdam, July 31, 2008 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ – The Dutch Cabinet will participate in the Amsterdam Gay Pride on August 2. The boat is an initiative of Dutch Minister Ronald Plasterk, who is the coordinating Secretary of gay policy. Plasterk has invited fellow Cabinet member Guusje ter Horst, Minister for Home Affairs, who has agreed to come along. It will be the first time the Cabinet is represented during the Gay Pride. Also new this year will be a police boat with police-officials and the Christianity boat. The parade, which will see around 80 boats sailing through the Prinsengracht, will commence at 1.30pm. "We are glad that this year politicians in Holland are more aware of the need to focus on social acceptance of homosexuality as they used to do over the last few years", ProGay-chairman Frank van Dalen says. "The Amsterdam Gay Pride is an event with a substantive touch. It is important to make homosexuality visible, because you can’t deny what’s visible." Van Dalen is very pleased with the Christian participation. "So far Orthodox Christians believed in two separate worlds, as if homosexuality is not part of their own closed society. This boat proves them wrong." Several dedicated masses will be held on the day, of which one is in a synagogue.
Street parties will be organized at several locations across the city. There will be outdoor stage performances by national and international DJ-s and artists at the Reguliersdwarsstraat, at the Westermarkt and on Amstelveld. The Amstelstraat and Paardenstraat will host a street party especially composed for women. The Dutch bear band Bearforce1 will perform at Amstel. The will be an extensive cultural program around Amsterdam Gay Pride. The Jewish Historical Museum will host an exhibition with gay-related photos and will show the movie ‘Jerusalem is proud to present’ about the Jerusalem gay pride in relation to the orthodox Jews. The Amsterdam Historical Museum has organized a special tour the Dutch royal family. Artis zoo has a tour about homosexuality in the animal kingdom. There will also be activities at the Van Gogh museum and the Museum of Bags and Purses. In Rialto Filmtheater and De Uitkijk several gay and lesbian films will be shown. This year the second edition of the Company Pride will be held about homosexuality on the working floor. The theme will be ‘Visibility in Business, at Work’.
Interest in the Amsterdam Gay Pride is bigger than ever this year. The maximum of participants for the boat parade was reached more than a month before the event. Also remarkable is the interest from the business world. The Amsterdam Gay Pride sponsors this year will be ING and TNT. It is for the first time that multinationals support the event, which indicates the Amsterdam Gay Pride is developing strongly. http://www.weareproud.nl
Source Bennink Bicker Caarten BV
August 3, 2008 – afp.google.com
Amsterdam turn into one big party for gay pride
Amsterdam (AFP) — Tens of thousands of people thronged Amsterdam Saturday to watch the city’s biggest-ever parade of homosexuals floating flamboyantly down the historic canals in dazzling style. In a festive atmosphere the streets lining the canals and the bridges over them overflowed with members of the gay community, residents, tourists, party-goers and curious onlookers. Disco music pumped from the 80 boats passing through the canals in a four-hour spectacle that involved plenty of glistening male torsos, bikinis, glitter, feathers and boas. Restaurants and cafe’s in the vicinity were decorated with pink balloons,
alcohol flowed freely and the smell of marijuana hung in the air. A clear crowd favourite was a boatload of men in tight leather shorts and leather straps around their naked upper bodies, urging the crowd to dance along to the tune of "I just can’t get enough". Other boats sported men and women dressed as cowboys, angels and devils, but at least one had a serious message on a banner stating in pink letters: "Not everybody is free to celebrate".
"This is a very important occasion, not just a party," said 35-year-old Blas Aguero, who had travelled from Brussels to participate. Wearing a huge pink hat, he told AFP: "We live in a hypocritical society. Even if people don’t say they dislike you for being gay, they never quite accept you". "It is about showing that we are here, that it is time that lesbian women who walk hand-in-hand in the street are not gawked at, or spat on as happened to a friend of mine," added one 24-year-old woman who did not want to be named.
Lyke van der Schaft, 35, said the parade was an important statement for her. "We are here to show that being a pink family is OK," she said, accompanied by her partner and young daughter. Organisers expected about half-a-million visitors at the event, the 13th hosted by the city of Amsterdam, and the first to be sponsored by two major companies. "The parade serves a dual purpose: to celebrate that we can be who we are and that we can do it in the open, and to be visible, building acceptance of homosexuality," said organiser Frank van Dalen. "We are here for the party but also for the struggle."
For the first time ever, members of the Dutch cabinet and Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen joined the parade to show political support for the gay cause. Cohen said in a statement earlier that gay acceptance appeared to be under threat. "The number of incidents of discrimination and of violence against gay people has increased in the past year," he said. "It is time to stop talking about tolerance and focus instead on acceptance of sexual differences in Amsterdam."
Van Dalen argued that society as a whole was in need of a mindshift. "As gay people, we still get the feeling that we want to be more open but it is difficult to do so in the workplace, on the sportsfield. Society still expects of gay people to behave ‘normally’. Society needs to start accepting that we add value through our differentness."
One of the boats in the line-up, sponsored by a developmental organisation, was empty to remind audiences of the plight of homosexuals who face persecution or even the death penalty in some countries. In another first for the parade, one of the floats carried a group of Christian homosexuals, and another entitled "Roze in Blaauw" (Pink in Blue) a group of uniformed gay police. Gay men from the Netherlands Antilles, initially fearful of being identified, also took part in the end. "This is fantastic!" exclaimed 73-year-old Peter Hermans, who attended his first gay pride parade as a spectator. "It is festive, it is spontaneous, it is fun!"
August 4, 2008 – PinkNews
Dutch ministers join 500,000 revellers at Amsterdam Pride
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
Senior members of the government of the Netherlands have taken part in the annual Amsterdam Pride celebrations for the first time. Minister for Education and Culture Ronald Plasterk said that his presence would focus attention on homophobia in Holland. In an interview with Radio Netherlands he said: "I’m joining the Gay Pride Canal Parade on behalf of the entire coalition." Despite his claims, only ministers from the Labour party took part, with politicians from their coalition partners, the Christian Democrats and Christian Union party, noticeable by their absence. The Mayor of Amsterdam, Job Cohen, also took part for the first time. The city’s Pride parade makes use of the canals, with boats rather than trucks – this year the Armed Forces, police, other political parties and straight supporters, alongside sponsor IMG, all had "floats." An estimated 500,000 people lined the route on Saturday to watch a record 80 boats, many of them featuring colourful displays and semi-naked men and women. It was the 13th year that the event has been staged.
Mr Plasterk was joined in the Ministry for Education and Culture boat by the deputy ministers for European affairs and for education. "The Gay Pride is a public event where people show they are gay or lesbian and are proud of being so," he told Radio Netherlands. "It is important for the government to show it shares that Pride. We encourage people to dare to be themselves and live the way they want. We are keen to support them with that and the Ministry’s boat at the parade aims to make that support visible. Anti-gay violence, though it never disappeared, is flaring. In some urban neighbourhoods it’s to do with youths from an Islamic background who are encouraged by the notion that homosexuality is morally repugnant. This is extremely worrying. When I talk about this at schools, it is shocking to hear how some young people think and talk about this. So a lot remains to be done. And not only at urban schools: ‘queer-bashing’ is something all kinds of youths do after drinking all around the country."
A substantial increase in homophobic attacks in the capital has been reported over the last few years. A survey carried out last August by current affairs programme EenVandaag revealed that more than half of Dutch gays felt less safe than they did a year ago. Sixty-four per cent of anti-gay incidents were verbal but 12 per cent resulted in physical abuse. Amsterdam’s image in the Netherlands as the ‘gay capital of the world’ is also under threat as the survey revealed gays there were more fearful than in other parts of country. Of the 23,000 people questioned, including 1,980 gays and lesbians, 61 per cent still maintained the Netherlands is a gay-friendly country.
See photos of the Pride parade here.
October 16, 2008 – smh.com.au
Gay gang’s alleged attempt to spread HIV at sex orgies: EUR: Dutchmen accused of spreading HIV at sex parties on trial Dutch HIV Lead
The Hague, Oct 15 AFP – Prosecutors have sought eight- to 15-year jail terms for three people accused of being part of a gay gang whose alleged victims have told a Dutch court about attempts to infect them with the AIDS virus at sex orgies. "I feel fear, anger, sadness and anxiety," one of the trio’s alleged victims, an HIV-positive student, told the district court in Groningen today. Hans Jurgens, 39, Peter Mulder, 50, and Wim Dekker, 49, all HIV-positive, are charged with drugging gay men, raping them and injecting them with HIV-contaminated blood.
They stand accused of intentionally spreading the deadly virus at sex parties to which they invited people via the internet, and are charged with aggravated assault, rape and illegal possession of drugs. Another witness, identified only as Erwin, questioned the motives for intentionally infecting a person with the virus. "One must have incredible hatred," he said in a statement read out to the court by the presiding judge. Erwin has been taking anti-retroviral medication for six months. "This question occupies my days and nights. For the rest of my life I will carry this crime with me, and its consequences."
A third victim told the court he had unwittingly passed the virus to his partner, not knowing that he, himself, had been infected. He has not told his children of his illness, which he said filled him with "an all-consuming anger". "I cannot understand why they did this to me. These men not only made me ill, but cause me to carry around a burdensome secret."
Prosecutor Marcel Wolters told the court the case had sent shockwaves through the country. "The combination of sex parties and HIV injections justifiably caused a big commotion." The trio were arrested in May last year after 14 alleged victims – 12 of whom are HIV-positive or sick with AIDS – pressed charges. The prosecution believes they probably contracted the virus at the sex parties. The victims were allegedly sedated with a combination of ecstasy, alcohol and the date rape drug GHB (gamma-Hydroxybutyric acid), before being raped or injected with HIV-positive blood.
The combination of drugs leaves a victim helpless and often with no memory of what happened. Outlining the role of each of the three, Wolters told the court that Mulder, a nurse, had been the one mainly responsible for drugging victims’ drinks, administering the HIV injections, and had "multiple sexual contacts" with party guests. Jurgens, said the prosecutor, was the one whose blood Mulder drew and injected into others, and also had sex with many of the men.
Wolters said investigators had found a letter signed by Jurgens, addressed to Mulder, in which he talked about deliberately infecting people with HIV. "I drugged guests and later gave them an injection with my own seropositive blood," reads the letter produced by the prosecutor. Jurgens’ letter said he had had more "randy and dirty" sex since his HIV infection than ever before. The prosecution sought 15-year jail terms for Jurgens and Mulder.
For Dekker, the prosecutor asked for eight years. "He (Dekker) often initiated contact via chatboy.nl and gaychat.nl (two online sites). He fetched and brought the visitors to parties, and made his home available for this purpose." If the three defendants are convicted, the victims plan to launch civil action for compensation, their lawyer has told AFP.
November 21, 2008 – dgeboston.com
Anti-gay violence is a problem in Amsterdam
by Toby Sterling
Amsterdam, Netherlands (AP) – Amsterdam faces an ingrained problem of violence against gay men, despite its reputation as a haven of tolerance, according to a study released Thursday. Town councilman Freek Ossel said the University of Amsterdam study, commissioned by the city, said the Dutch capital must improve protection of gays, increase education, and encourage reporting of discriminatory incidents. "Amsterdam’s title as a gay capital, according to some people, has already been gone for years, and according to others in any case it’s at stake," he said.
The study said 67 attacks were reported in Amsterdam in 2007. Police commissioner Leo Wilde said the number was about average for recent years and "is not decreasing." The figure is difficult to compare with other cities. Amsterdam, with 750,000 people, has tried for years to improve reporting of anti-gay incidents, but police believe most still go unreported. The study found that most attacks were carried out spontaneously by poorly educated young men who feel their masculinity has been questioned.
"In 40 percent of cases the trigger is if people think they’re being targeted" for seduction, said Laurens Buijs, one of the study’s authors. Attackers "see gays as predatory animals that can strike at any moment." The study drew its title "As Long As They Keep Away From Me" from that fear. It concluded that the tolerance often professed by Dutch youth is only a veneer: gay men are accepted only as long as they don’t display stereotypically gay behavior. The study combined a broad survey of Amsterdam youth with in-depth interviews with smaller groups. Authors also interviewed individual attackers and reviewed recent cases.
"It’s very sad confirmation of what we already suspected," said Dennis Boutkan, chairman of the Union for Homosexual Integration. "The layer of social acceptance of homosexuality is exceptionally fragile and thin."
January 12, 2009 – PinkNews
‘Ex-gay’ church loses funding from Dutch government
by Felicity Baker
An Orthodox Christian group in the Netherlands has lost government financial backing over claims its members try to "cure" homosexuality. The government makes grants totalling 450,000 euros (£405,000) a year to Christian groups that promote the interests of homosexual people. Orthodox group Onze Weg (Our Way) claimed to do this and received a subsidy of 50,000 euros in September.
Members of Parliament Boris van der Ham and Anouchka van Miltenburg started asking questions after an article in Revu Weekly made claims that groups such as Our Way deliberately set out to encourage gay people to "become" heterosexual. Dutch Education Minister Ronald Plasterk had previously defended the funding of these groups, but was forced to ask Our Way for an explanation following the allegations.
Our Way responded in a letter: "Our subsidy is intended to promote an open discussion of homosexuality among orthodox Christians. It is out of the question that we support clubs that advocate helping people to get rid of their homosexual feelings."
In Parliament last Thursday Mr Plasterk announced the group will not receive funding from the government. The article in Revu Weekly also made similar allegations against another group, the RefoAnders Foundation. They have since been asked to make a detailed account of what their aims are.
April 24, 2009 – PinkNews
Dutch survey reveals lesbian women suffer depression and stigmatisation
by Staff Writer, PinkNews.co.uk
Research from the Netherlands has reported that bisexual and lesbian women suffer anxiety, depression and insomnia and are the targets of gossip and abuse. The University of Amsterdam study found that women under 25 were more vulnerable to these problems than those over 50.
"The most negative reactions to their lesbian or bisexual women have received the strangers on the street, in the nightlife and colleagues (or class or students)," says the study, according to the Telegraaf. "A greater frequency of stigmatising events appeared to be related to both the stated as well as psychological and somatic complaints of women."
2,000 women were questioned for the study. The Dutch Education Minister Ronald Plasterk spoke out at a an event run by a lesbian advocacy group. "We only live once, and let’s have everyone, men and women, leading the life they want to lead, and especially enjoying love and sexuality," he said, according to Radio Netherlands. "There are still women and men who for years don’t dare admit they’re lesbian or gay just because they may not be accepted by those around them. Successful, strong role models can help support lesbian and bisexual women."
July 28, 2009 – The New York Times
Too Gay in Amsterdam?
by Denny Lee
Herman Wouters for The New York Times
It’s no secret that Amsterdam is gay-friendly, but in case that slipped under anyone’s radar, Dutch tourism officials have launched a micro Web site this month proclaiming that “Everyone’s Gay in Amsterdam.” The Web site, which is geared for American travelers, offers a “gay list” that features places like Prik, described as a “relaxed and funky gay-friendly bar” that “serves up unusual cocktails concocted by its highly-trained staff of bartenders.”
But a closer look reveals that not everyone in Amsterdam is, in fact, gay. A photograph of a seemingly happy straight couple biking along a canal? The Van Gogh Museum? A “gay locator” that doesn’t turns the entire city into an orange dot? Turns out, “gay” doesn’t just refer to sexual orientation, but “the attitude of the people in this grand European city,” according to the VisualMerc, a New York-based interactive agency that created the micro-site.
The campaign, which cleverly pokes fun at Amsterdam’s reputation for tolerance, was sponsored by the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions, Delta Air Lines, KLM and Air France.
American gays and lesbians find refuge – and a truly unique wedding venue – in the Netherlands
Amsterdam, the Netherlands – Four hundred years after Henry Hudson first set sail from Amsterdam to Manhattan, more and more gay and lesbian Americans are making the journey in reverse – and not just for an enjoyable vacation. On Saturday, August 1, five American citizens will marry their Dutch partners in a ceremony presided by Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen. While same-sex weddings are nothing unusual in the Netherlands, these ones will take place on a boat in the middle of Amsterdam’s annual Gay Pride canal parade.
The unusual wedding venue highlights painful inequalities in U.S. marriage and immigration law. While these couples are free to marry and live in the Netherlands, they do not enjoy the same freedom in the United States.
Even in states that allow same-sex couples to marry, like Iowa and Connecticut, these couples are not recognized by the U.S. federal government, which controls all immigration matters. As a result, thousands of US citizens are forced into exile in countries like the Netherlands, where their relationships with their foreign partners are recognized and where they enjoy equal rights in family law.
Couples married overseas may even have trouble going to the U.S. for a short visit. Their marriage can be seen by U.S. immigration authorities as a sign that they intend to remain in the U.S. together. Same-sex spouses have been turned away at the border and refused entry for this very reason.
"The debate over immigration reform is about to get underway in the U.S. Congress," said Martha McDevitt-Pugh, a U.S. citizen who lives by necessity in Amsterdam with her Dutch-Australian wife. "The question is: will our families be included in this legislation and will we finally be able to return home?" The City of Amsterdam has invited McDevitt-Pugh to represent the love exile community on their wedding boat. "These marriages send a message to our leaders in Washington: it’s time to honor and respect all our families”, she said.
The Love Exiles Foundation is a Netherlands-based organization that advocates for same-sex couples who lack the right to live in one or both or their home countries due to discriminatory immigration law. Love Exiles communities in the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, Canada, and Australia provide support to US citizens who are forced into exile to be with their foreign partners.
Martha McDevitt-Pugh is the Founder and Chair of the Love Exiles Foundation. Martha is available for interviews by calling 06 2150 4249 (in the Netherlands) or +31 6 2150 4249 (from outside the Netherlands) or emailing email@example.com
November 9, 2009 – The New York Times
Dutch Views on Same-Sex Marriage
by Lisa Belkin
When I wrote about same sex parenting in the Times Magazine this weekend, one of the people I interviewed was M. V. Lee Badgett, who is both the director of the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law & Public Policy at the UCLA School of Law and a professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. She is also the author of “When Gay People Get Married: What Happens When Societies Legalize Same-Sex Marriage,” which focuses mostly on data from the Netherlands, where same-sex marriage has been legal for nearly a decade.
My magazine article focused primarily on the effects of same-sex marriage on children. But Badgett has more to say — about the effects of same-sex couples on marriage, and also about the effects of marriage on same-sex couples.
She shared her thoughts in a follow-up email interview:
Q. – Why study how gay marriage works in the Netherlands?
A. – The Netherlands let same-sex couples marry in 2001, so they have the longest experience for us to see what effects it might have. And like some states here, the Netherlands also had a civil union-like status (“registered partnerships”) before same-sex marriage rights, starting in 1998. So the Dutch have had a long time for things to change — the cultural meaning of marriage, choices about marriage by different-sex couples, and the impact on gay and lesbian people, in particular. Also, Dutch couples have lots of choices for organizing their relationships, so we can see which legal institutions appeal most to couples, whether gay or heterosexual couples.
Q. – Did legalizing same-sex marriage face the same objections there as here?
A. – The Dutch gay activists worked on the issue for about 15 years, so things clearly moved faster there. (We’re already past 15 years of serious effort here in the U.S.) A majority of their public supported equal rights for same-sex partners and marriage rights fairly early in that process. The most powerful opponents were in the Christian Democratic Party and other religious parties. (Even now some civic officials who have religious objections to gay marriage refuse to marry same-sex couples.) The two biggest issues would be very familiar to people in the U.S.: whether there should be a separate status for same-sex couples and how to deal with children — whether adoption rights would be included and what the status of children born into same-sex couples would be. That’s why the Netherlands ended up with two legal statuses for both same-sex and different-sex couples. And married same-sex couples still don’t have the same parental rights as different-sex married couples. Same-sex married couples can’t adopt children internationally, and a non-biological lesbian parent only gets “parental authority” for a child born to her female spouse, not automatic parental rights. To get full parental rights, the non-biological parent must still formally adopt the child.
Q. – Did marriage change the individuals who entered into it? If so, how?
A. – On a personal level, many people said that getting married made them feel more committed to or responsible for their partners, or that they felt some larger emotional or spiritual effects, even though most of these couples had already been together for many years before they could marry. Many same-sex couples were surprised to find that marriage changes how other people see them. Marriage triggers expectations of friends and family members, who support married couples and remind them that they’re part of a larger social institution.
Q. – How did people who did not marry feel about having the right to marry?
A. – The right to marry even changed people who chose not to marry. Everyone I interviewed noted that they were glad the law had changed — they felt “invited to the party” in the words of one person — and they said that they felt more a part of society as a result. The long-standing anger and resignation that many lesbians and gay men felt as the result of being excluded from such an important institution as marriage is not healthy, psychologically or physically. I believe that the sense of increased social inclusion that I saw in the Netherlands has the potential to profoundly change all lesbian, gay, and bisexual people in positive ways in the U.S., too.
Q. – Did the legalization of same-sex marriage somehow change marriage in the Netherlands?
A. – I looked hard for evidence of changes in the cultural idea of marriage and for evidence that heterosexuals and gay and lesbian couples have different ideas and behavior related to marriage — but I couldn’t find any. The trends in marriage and divorce didn’t change. The ideas about marriage expressed by lesbian and gay couples lined up with the ideas of their heterosexual peers: marriage is about the love and commitment of two people who work together as equals to weather life’s ups and downs, become members of each other’s extended families, and often (but not always) raise children together. Couples who formalize their relationships — gay or straight — are more likely to choose marriage than a civil union.
Q. – What is the “take away” for those who are debating these questions in the U.S.?
A. – The big point is that all of the evidence suggests that same-sex couples will fit right into our current understanding of marriage in the U.S. Marriage itself will not be affected. Dutch heterosexuals appear to have adapted to the legal change by changing how they see same-sex couples, not how they see marriage. Now they see gay couples as people who should get married, and they are happy to remind their gay and lesbian family members of that fact!
We also see why the word “marriage” matters. The Dutch same-sex couples I interviewed saw their civil union-like status as “a bit of nothing,” as one person called it, or as a political compromise that an accountant might invent. Only marriage has the social understanding to back up the legal status, and the social meaning is as important as the legal rights. Civil unions just don’t have that social meaning. One woman I interviewed put it this way: “Two-year-olds understand marriage. It’s a context, and everyone knows what it means.”
Finally, as in Europe, in the U.S. we see the most liberal states — the most tolerant of homosexuality, the least religious, and the ones with more family diversity — taking the earliest action through courts and legislatures to legally recognize same-sex couples. That’s not surprising, of course, but it suggests that we’re going at about the right pace for social change.
July 11, 2010 – Zap2It
World Cup’s Netherlands, Spain to ‘Today Show’: We’re Team Gay. Why weren’t you?
by Elizabeth Snead
Last year was a bummer for gay rights with the defeat of Prop 8 in California. But what a difference 12 months makes. Now gay marriage rights are getting a big international boost from the 2010 World Cup soccer games. The final fierce game between the Netherlands and Spain is already in progress Sunday (June 11). And ironically, both countries provide full marriage rights to their gay and lesbian citizens. The Netherlands was the first country to legalize same-sex marriages in 2001. Spain, a predominantly Catholic country, legalized gay unions in 2005. And the World Cup host country South Africa also provides marriage equality for its citizens.
So no matter which team you’re rooting for, and no matter which team gets the World Cup crown, the winner will be a country that supports gay rights for everyone. Woot, woot! And guess what? NBC‘s "Today Show" is also following suit. NBC execs announced last week that the show is changing the rules and same sex couples can now apply for a wedding ceremony on the morning show. NBC extended the deadline for applications on "Modern Wedding Contest" until Monday (July 12). And thousands of gay couples have already sent in their apps for an on-air wedding.
"We’re thrilled that ‘Today Show’s Modern Wedding Contest’ now recognizes what most fair-minded Americans have already concluded – a wedding celebrates love and commitment, whether the spouses are straight or gay," said Jarrett Barrios, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Same-sex couples were previously excluded because New York state prohibits same sex wedding licenses. But GLAAD pointed out to NBC that a same-sex couple would be able to get a license from another state and still have a ceremony in New York.
"Moving forward, we ensure that our future wedding contests will be inclusive to all couples," NBC said. It’s really happening. Slowly, but it’s happening. Are you as glaad (no pun intended) as we are?