Amsterdam is preparing itself for hundreds of thousands of spectators on Saturday. Dressed in a rainbow outfit, they stand on the canals in front of the Canal Parade. The event, where the LGBTI community shows itself to the city, is becoming increasingly popular. But how does that relate to society?
"It has become increasingly busy in recent years," says Frits Huffnagel, who is now chairman of the Pride for the sixth year. Not only is the number of visitors increasing, more and more companies, associations and organizations also want to sail with the boat parade.
Huffnagel thinks it is a good development that more and more parties want to connect their names to the Pride. This year, for example, a boat sails on which the political parties D66, VVD, CDA, SP and PvdA are represented together.
Also this year there are sixteen sports associations represented on a joint boat, decorated with banners that say: You do sports together. Last year only four sports federations participated. "Because these unions commit themselves to the Pride, they send an important message to associations throughout the country," said Huffnagel. "If you come to work with us you can be yourself".
But COC spokesman Philip Tijsma believes that there is still a lot to do in the field of sport in the Netherlands. For example, only a few Dutch top football players have emerged, such as former professional football player John de Bever. "There is also a lot of scolding at clubs with the word 'gay'."
The growing attention for the Pride therefore seems to have some effect on society. But how is lhbti acceptance actually going in the Netherlands?
The Canal Parade in 2018. (Photo: Reuters)
"Other countries have surpassed us"
Remember the past, create the future is the theme of Pride 2019. The Stonewall riots that broke out in New York fifty years ago are considered. Visitors to the gay bar The Stonewall Inn, including gay men, lesbian women, trans women and transvestites, decided to fight back after a police raid.
According to the Amsterdam Gay Pride foundation, the riots form a dividing line in the history of the LGBTI movement. A year later, in 1970, the world's first Pride Parade was held in the American city.
"The Netherlands has become lazy after legalizing same-sex marriage" Astrid Oosenbrug, COC chairman
In the years that follow, the 'tolerant' Netherlands profiles itself as a pioneer in the field of gay acceptance. This can be seen in the long tradition of gay organizations, such as the current COC that was founded in 1946 and has received official recognition as an association since the 1970s. In 2001, the Netherlands was the first country in the world to open up marriage to people of the same sex.
"The Netherlands has become lazy after the legalization of same-sex marriage," said COC chairman Astrid Oosenbrug in de Volkskrant this week. We were leaders and have now dropped back to the peloton. I want to go back to that leading group. "
"We are not completely asleep, of course, but it is mainly because other countries have surpassed us", COC spokesman Tijsma continues. The Netherlands is no longer in the top ten in the Rainbow Europe index of ILGA Europe. This index looks at the number of rights for LGBT people. In the Netherlands, among other things, the rights of transpersons and intersex persons are not yet properly regulated. For example, there is no explicit prohibition of discrimination against these groups.
Malta now leads the list. "Malta, for example, has arranged things well for transpersons and also made it possible very quickly to have an x in your passport," says Tijsma.
More positive image about homosexuality, transpersons are struggling
Despite the fact that the Netherlands scores poorly in terms of legislation, Tijsma emphasizes that, relatively speaking, the Netherlands is naturally a nice country to live in for LGBT people. This is also apparent from research from the SCP in which it is concluded that the Dutch think more and more positively about homosexuality. For example, in 2017 about two thirds of the Dutch were positive about this; in 2006 this was only slightly more than half.
On the other hand, things are not going equally well in all areas. In particular, transpersons are under pressure. Despite the fact that the number of Dutch people who think positively about this has increased in recent years, this percentage was only 57 percent in 2017.
According to the SCP, they also experience feelings of insecurity and bullying most often. Around 20 percent of younger transpersons are bullied. This is 10 percent among the other younger people.
In addition, the Dutch still have difficulty with two kissing men or women in a public space. 29 and 20 percent respectively have problems with this. Although these percentages have fallen in recent years.
"I adjust my behavior for fear of violence"
The SCP study has not revealed any improvement in the image of homosexuality. The groups can actually be more accepted, but according to the COC something else can also happen.
According to figures from the SCP, 60 percent of LGBT people in the Netherlands adjust their behavior for fear of being confronted with violence. The number of reports of discrimination in the Netherlands also lags behind other European countries. "In England and Wales, for example, reports are made twenty times more often than in the Netherlands, while the population is three times as large," says Tijsma.
A report from the independent national knowledge institute Movisie also shows that 70 percent of LGBT people still face verbal or physical violence. These people are scolded, pushed, spit or abused for who they are.
"We estimate that there are approximately one million LGBT people living in the Netherlands, but a declaration is made only fifteen hundred times a year," Tijsma continues.
See also: Ellie Lust and Rik van de Westelaken: "Pride should not be necessary"
Is the right audience coming to the Pride?
According to Tijsma, it is important that people who do not belong to the LGBTI community come to the Pride. "You just want people who have their doubts to see this. To achieve emancipation, visibility is needed. Familiarizing, I would almost say. But they must respect the parade."
Huffnagel says that this was not the case last year. "There were too many other boats in the Prinsengracht, which hindered the flow of the parade. If you, as a spectator, wanted to stand on one of these boats, you had to pay an entrance fee. Such people are not there for the right reason, but just want to be there to earn. "
"In addition, loud music was also heard everywhere. Sometimes so loud that the music could no longer be heard from the boat parade. So you notice that other audiences are approaching. Audience that we think is here for the wrong reason "For example, a boat from the parade on which drag artists were fully dressed - with an expensive wig and after having spent three hours in the make-up - was sprayed wet with water guns," Huffnagel continues.
“So you notice that different audiences are approaching. What we think are here for the wrong reason ”Frits Huffnagel, chairman Pride Amsterdam
This year, the sailing route of the parade has been named an event site. Boats on the quays must also be in possession of vignettes, which they could request in advance. If they do not have these, they are towed away. This is how Huffnagel hopes to banish commerce.
The Pride is about being able to be yourself and showing this to the world. "The message we want to convey is:" Be who you are and love who you want, "says Huffnagel.