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.