An academic who supported the rights of kids under 16 to take part in Amsterdam’s Gay Pride parade has received a flood of death threats.

Gert Hekma, Professor of Gay Lesbian Studies at the University of Amsterdam, was not involved in the plan to allow gay kids to take part in the annual boat parade.

“I had only expressed my opinion as an academic that it seemed to me to be crazy that the legal age of consent is 16 when children so much younger are now coming out the closet,” he said.

“I welcomed the idea of the children’s boat. But as a result I am now accused of being a paedophile professor and child molestor,” he told Volkskrant newspaper.

Hekma has lodged a complaint with the police against five people who sent specific death threats by email to him, the university and to many websites.

A 14-year-old boy first proposed that minors should be allowed to take part in the boat parade along the city’s canals, which is the highlight of Amsterdam’s Pride celebrations.

He is being supported by gay organisation COC and the Pride organisers. The boy says on his website that he has been out for 18 months.

News agencies today reported that Amsterdam’s mayor Job Cohen has dropped his objection to the under 16s taking part, after Pride officials said that the kids would be accompanied by their parents and kept far away from the more adult boats.

However, one gay rights activist in the city said he was suspicious of the mayor’s change of heart.

“Friends I have spoken to here are sceptical that Job Cohen, the increasingly right wing mayor of Amsterdam – who is notorious for having introduced the “stop and search” laws and other anti-libertarian measures – has really changed his mind on this issue,” Adrian Marlowe said.