Last week, all of Amsterdam was given over to Gay Pride: for an entire week, extra attention for the acceptance of homosexuality and LGBTI+ rights was asked and given, capped off by the world-famous Amsterdam Pride Parade. This parade and the subsequent festival are a celebration of LGBTI+ rights. But what is the current state of acceptance of homosexuality and LGBTI+ rights in the Netherlands? Four questions for John de Wit, Professor of Social and Behavioural Sciences and an expert in the study of homosexuality and social sciences.
The Netherlands has a reputation as a leader when it comes to the acceptance of homosexuality. Rightly so?
We like to think of the Netherlands as a tolerant country, including where homosexuality is concerned. But to what extent does a specifically Dutch tolerance exist, or a Dutch leadership role in acceptance, for that matter? I've become more sceptical in this regard over the years. The abolishment of homosexuality – more specifically sodomy – as a punishable offence originated in the French era at the start of the 19th century, while the societal emancipation that has been unfolding since the late 19th century has been driven by developments in Germany. There is no doubt that Amsterdam was an international (homosexual) tourist attraction, especially for gay men, in the last decades of the 20th century. This country also has a long tradition of gay-rights organisations, the heir to these being today's COC (Dutch organisation advocating for LGBTQI+ rights). Furthermore, the Netherlands was the first nation in the world to allow civil marriages between same-sex couples.