Amsterdam Hub

Thousands Protest Russia's Anti-Gay Laws In Amsterdam: VIDEO


Over 2,000 protesters took to the streets of Amsterdam on Sunday to show their support for gay rights and to rebuke Russia’s anti-gay laws and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The AP reports:

VanderlaanAmsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan told the crowd he hoped the protest would send the message to Moscow that "love is not propaganda."

Afterward in an interview with The Associated Press, he said the city "is proud of its homosexual community and they have the right to support from government" — not persecution. Amsterdam has a long history of tolerance of gay rights, including performing the first gay marriages in 2001 [...]

Sunday's protest, titled "To Russia With Love," was organized in response to a concert featuring a Russian state orchestra and choir that was held on the far side of the square later in the evening. The two countries have named 2013 as a special year to celebrate historical ties.

But Van der Laan declined to meet with Putin when he visited the Netherlands in March, sending lesbian councilwoman Carolien Gehrels in his place and flying a rainbow flag over city hall.

Organizer Frank van Dalen of Pride United said he was thrilled with the turnout for Sunday's demonstration, which was put together in a matter of days — word spread quickly on social media.

"It shows that people are incredibly angry" about Russian treatment of gays, he said. "Not only gays and lesbians, but heterosexuals have come out to support them, and transgender and bisexual — this is something that concerns everyone."

Back in April, over 3,000 people in Amsterdam signed up for a protest of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to the Dutch capital because of his support for the then-proposed anti-gay law which was ultimately passed and went into effect in June. Rainbow flags were flown all across the city, some at half-mast and some strategically placed to guarantee that President Putin would see them during his stay in Amsterdam.

Sunday's protests in Museum Square come on the heels of last week's protests in Copenghagen that saw over 10,000 people take to the streets to condemn Putin and his country's anti-gay laws. Last week also saw gay rights supporters coming up with other inventive ways to protest the criminalization of gay rights in Russia.

Watch as Dutch protesters sing along to a rendition of "To Russia With Love" AFTER THE JUMP...

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U.S. Consulate in Amsterdam Issues First Visa to Gay Spouse


John Kerry's pronouncement on Friday that the U.S. would immediately begin treating visa applications from same-sex couples in the same manner as those from heterosexual couples led to this historic event yesterday.

From the U.S. Consulate General, Amsterdam's Facebook page:

Mr. Francois Conradie is moving to New York, and visited the U.S. Consulate General in Amsterdam for his L2 visa interview on Friday. Today, he was surprised by Consul General Berry, who presented him with the printed visa placed in his passport. This is the first derivative visa we have had the privilege of issuing to the same-sex spouse of a visa applicant in Amsterdam since the U.S. Supreme Court's repeal of DOMA.

Have a great trip Mr. Conradie!


Vladimir Putin Says Russia Does Not Discriminate Against Gays


Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared in a press conference in Amsterdam on Monday and said that his country does not discriminate against gay people, Reuters reports:

"In the Russian Federation - so that it is clear to everybody - there is no infringement on the rights of sexual minorities. These people...enjoy all the same rights and freedoms as everyone else."

Tell that to Artem Kalinin:


Or this guy:


Or the protestors who got attacked by these people:


Or these activists with egg on their faces:


Or these demonstrators arrested last December:


Or the people attacked by men in masks on "coming out day":


In January, the Russian Duma passed a ban on gay "propaganda" in a 390-1 vote on its first reading:


But no, gays enjoy the same freedoms as everyone else, according to Putin.

And make sure not to miss my earlier post.

Drag Queen Sings Amazing Protest Anthem Against Russian President Vladimir Putin in Amsterdam: VIDEO


Drag queen Dolly Bellefleur had a massive crowd cheering in Amsterdam with a rollicking anthem about Russia's oppression of LGBT people during a protest yesterday timed to coincide with President Vladimir Putin's visit to the city.

Check it out, AFTER THE JUMP...

Some of the lyrics:

There lives an evil man in Russia nowadays
He supports a law against lesbians and gays
Most people look at him with terror and with fear
Cause he pulls the strings like a wicked puppeteer
It's distressing how he is suppressing homosexuality
In the name of love we are protesting: Set our sisters free.
Stop stop stop Putin - Drop your law at the Kremlin - Love is no crime it's not a disease
Stop stop stop Putin - Your plans are so poisoning - For all the Russian LGBTs.


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More Than 3,000 Signed Up for Gay Protest of Putin in Amsterdam as Rainbow Flags Fly at Half Mast

(daniel meis twitter)

Rainbow flags, some at half mast, have been strategically placed across Amsterdam to mark Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit on Monday, AFP reports:

PutinMore than 3,300 people have signed up for the COC demonstration against the anti-gay law during President Putin's visit to Amsterdam," COC, the world's oldest gay rights group, said in a statement.

Protesters are targeting a bill before the Russian parliament that bans homosexual "propaganda" among minors. Rights activists and Western governments have condemned the measure, which provides for fines of up to 500,000 roubles (12,500 euros, $15,830) for any "public act" promoting homosexuality or paedophilia.

Putin's visit is centred on trade talks with major partner the Netherlands. He will also attend the opening of an exhibition on Dutch-Russian history at Amsterdam's Hermitage Museum. The main protest is to be staged outside the Maritime History Museum where Putin will be dining with Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Monday evening.

Putin arrives from Germany, where there were also protests.

Dan Choi Reports on His Participation in the First Sanctioned Military Contingent in Amsterdam Gay Pride Canal Parade



Guestblogger This weekend, in front of half a million Dutch families and revelers, the Amsterdam Gay Pride parade showcased a truly historic statement: 85 gay (including 2 transgender) servicemembers in full dress uniform with Dutch Defense Ministry officials in the first ever sanctioned military gay pride contingent. Three active duty gay generals were with us on the uber-gay float. We were literally floating, too: the canals that line the city of Amsterdam, built in the 17th century, were our parade route. Lots of saluting, lots of cheering, lots of dancing... lots of "IN THE NAVY" blasted over and over and over again.

Watch video of the float, AFTER THE JUMP... British Lieutenant Commander Mandy MacBain, Chief Diversity and Inclusion officer for the Royal Naval Service joined me in officially opening "Canal Pride 2011" with an appropriate theme: "All Together Now."  In spirit of cooperation we held the scissors together while cutting the pink boa held by leaders of PRO-GAY, the group organizing the parade. Her partner Joanna joined us on the boat, and the three of us comprised the foreign contingent. They set up flags for us near the back of the boat but by the time the parade kicked off, the soldiers pushed us to the front, to stand with their generals. This was quite an unexpected honor. (Photo: Ribbon cutting with (L-R) Dutch LTC Sandra Keijer, British LCDR MacBain, PRO-GAY Chair Irene Hemelaar) credit:

Amsterdam-3-police-Gerard-Rijkers The spirit of solidarity and inclusion was palpable, as the day prior, dozens of gay police officers from INTERPOL countries joined the Dutch LGBT Military Foundation (SHX: Stichting Homosexualiteit & Kriejgsmacht) in a tour including notable sites such as the city zoo, Rembrandt's tomb, and the world renowned "red light district." At the reception afterwards, Dutch Education and Cultural Ministry officials noted the historic nature of this pride parade, and I offered brief remarks about the Stonewall Riots and the success of community police liaisons in our shared duty to protect and serve. The irony was well received, that the only American representative in our group should invoke a violent uprising at a time when LGBT-Police relations were not strong, to put it mildly. On a personal level, the laughter allowed me to exhale a bit, knowing that these police officers were generally supportive of the confrontational activism that has always pushed American LGBT issues forward. (Photo: INTERPOL officers reception, credit: Gerard Rijkers, SHX)

Amsterdam-5-Newspaper I was surprised to hear reports on the progress of LGBT-Police relations all around Europe, particularly as reported hate-crimes have doubled in gay-friendly Amsterdam. Some point the finger at Muslim refugees while others laud the confidence LGBT Dutch have to report assaults and harassment. Either way, our work must focus on eradicating the source of bigotry while bridging gaps between oppressed communities. Returning violence for violence will solve nothing in our common struggle for justice.

It was also very enlightening to find there were 4 chaplains celebrating Pride with us, although they did not refer to their branch as The Chaplaincy. Calling themselves Moral Counselors, the Dutch military focuses more on the wartime need of soldiers to meet with a kind ear and warm heart in moments of despair. They still recognize denominations, but the Humanist variety was new to me. Indeed, when the majority of religious denominations expel and stigmatize their LGBT congregants, the state must find a way to provide equal dignity and counseling for those who would never return to a chapel. Especially if the chaplains are allowed to denounce minorities by way of religious protections, as they will in the US even after Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal. 

My presence at the festivities was poignant to many in The Netherlands who followed the Don't Ask Don't Tell debate closely this past year. One activist American general in particular drew the ire and ridicule of many when he contended last year before the US Senate that openly gay Dutch soldiers caused the massacre at Srebrenica (Kosovo). I am happy that our presence could serve as some repudiation of some American individuals who happily stir international uproar to satisfy their own selfish political motives. His bogus testimony and our first White House arrests were highlighted in the same news story along with the legacy of Technical Sergeant Leonard Matlovich on Dutch national TV. 

Amsterdam-5-Obama-Cake In my off time, I spoke at a meeting of the "Democrats Abroad" and met the Ambassador and some expatriates. Not surprisingly, many of these American-Dutch are gay and eagerly await immigration equality legislation and presidential action. While they live abroad, their influence does not end at the border or the absentee ballot: the perspective they provide Americans struggling for equality is critical. I learned that even I am complacent and too eager to celebrate partial equality as if it were the real thing. Seeing America from abroad usually makes us grateful to be American; it was certainly the feeling I got when returning home from Russia earlier this summer. But coming home from Amsterdam made the reality bitter: we have a long way to go before we can truly celebrate like the Dutch. The Democrats event was topped off with a Barack Obama birthday cake, topped with a dramatic Obama figurine. When I saw it I told myself "This has to be a practical joke." Well, I broke two gay activist rules: early celebration and dessert. I tried to resist, but my new friends decreed "let him eat cake."

While the weekend was a well-needed break for me, I also learned that the Dutch, even with their advances that put America to shame, are not satisfied with their equality struggle. Pink and Purple buttons carrying the new platforms: Gay History Education in Schools, and Everyone Officiate Gay Marriages (including religious bigots). The two slogans were prominently displayed on just about every bridge and in the sky-messaging carried by four "Pride airplanes." The Amsterdam Mayor and Justice Minister reminded me that they are not happy with political speeches alone, and their work reflects a true desire for justice. As their national government was unveiling a first-of-its-kind coalition platform for LGBT Equality with full cooperation from every ministry and government sector, I knew they were putting their money where their mouth was. The budgets for every state project and government ministry took a cut this year: all except one. The LGBT education project, intended to help international progress on LGBT equality actually received a budget increase. I know we can expect great things from this country for years to come.


Overall, I did not expect the kind of welcome we received. For whatever reason, I'm always looking for the one opponent in the crowd nowadays. Only one was visible, flipping us the middle finger from his stoop. It wasn't that we was anti-gay though. He carried a peace flag and shouted something about war, according to the soldiers I asked. Among the hundreds of thousands, not bad to have only one detractor. I suppose it is safe then to say this country loves its soldiers and its gays.  [Photos: Dutch National Paper 8/5, Amsterdam Pride credit: AP]

Watch a video of the float Choi rode on, AFTER THE JUMP...

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