In 2001, the Netherlands had a first when civil marriage was opened up to people of the same sex. On the first of April, the first couples were married in Amsterdam. At EuroPride, this anniversary will be celebrated, and we call on other countries to follow our lead.
It may come as a surprise, but in the European Union there are laws to ensure that cucumbers in the Netherlands are just as straight as those in Romania, but there are no laws to ensure that the gay people who eat them, are treated equally in both countries. Too often, the freedom of religion prevails over the freedom of sexual orientation and the right to be treated equally. At the moment, gays and lesbians can only get married in ten European countries. The freedom we almost take for granted in the Netherlands is a freedom others only can dream of.
With former President of ProGay Irene Hemelaar, now our Director GLBTI emancipation, I visited the InterPride Conference in October 2011. InterPride is a global umbrella organization consisting of more than 160 Prides from thirty-five countries and five continents. We went there as prospective members, with the mind-set to learn from the big boys. It quickly became clear that we were seen as one of the most leading Prides, and that they wanted to learn from us! That took some getting used to. From pupil to teacher in one weekend.
Back in Amsterdam, Irene and I started brainstorming. To properly fulfil our international and leading role, we concluded that Amsterdam should host EuroPride. Presuming that the city would also be interested, we presented our plan to the responsible civil servants and councillor. To our utter amazement, they were not enthusiastic at all, and were of the opinion that our ambitions did not tally with those of the city. Full of disbelief we started a political lobby, resulting in a unanimous vote accepting a motion by D66 in October 2012 and we could go ahead with our bid. Amsterdam was chosen to host the 2016 EuroPride by the other European Prides, partly because of the anniversary of “gay marriage” and the hope it entails for other GLBTs around the world.
Last September, I was on Curacao because of the success of the Kingdom of The Netherlands Boat. During that Pride, I met my boyfriend Victor, a very hard-working young Venezuelan who fled his country in search of a better life. His country is not only facing economic decline and a food crisis, but it is also a country where you might be killed, or disowned by your family because of your sexual orientation.
It was love at first sight, and we have been together now for seven months. And I, who never believed in marriage as an institution, popped the question and asked my baby to marry me. On July 23 during Pink Saturday, we’ll get married in the Vondelpark, taking full advantage of the rights and freedoms we enjoy in the Netherlands. And that is how EuroPride for me on a personal level will become a special milestone.
And if marriage is a step too far for our readers? At Pink Saturday you can marry for a day in Vondelpark, and have your picture taken with your beloved on the largest Wedding Cake in the world. See our website www.pride.amsterdam
This year, we are hosting EuroPride in Amsterdam. A special European version of the Amsterdam Gay Pride that will span two weeks and starts on July 23 with Pink Saturday. Visit www.pride.amsterdam
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Lucien Spee is managing director of the Foundation Amterdam Pride