Dutch politician wants gays to be given constitutional protection
An MP in Holland will use this Saturday’s Amsterdam Pride to highlight the ways in which the country’s government still discriminates against sexual minorities.
Boris van der Ham has been a strong supporter of gay rights.
He came to prominence in the UK earlier this year when he intervened in the case of a gay Iranian asylum seeker.
He secured a debate in the Dutch parliament about Mehdi Kazemi, a gay teenager who was studying in the UK and applied for asylum after his boyfriend was arrested and reportedly executed in Tehran.
He fled to Holland when it appeared he would be sent back to Iran. He has now been granted asylum in the UK.
Mr van der Ham, a member of the social-liberal D66 party, wants the Dutch constitution amended to include gay people as a protected group.
Where most Pride parades use trucks, Amsterdam has 100 spectacularly decorated boats, one of which will be filled with D66 supporters.
Last year, for the first time, a ‘hetero’ boat took part, as a protest against the rise in homophobic attacks in the Netherlands.
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.
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.
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.
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“The Christian Democrat-led ruling coalition is under fire for allowing civil servants to opt out of performing marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples,” reports Radio Netherlands.
“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.”
“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.””