Dutch lawmakers concerned by rejection of gay brochure
Stephanie van den Berg | October 12, 2004
THE HAGUE — Dutch lawmakers called Monday for more money to promote gay
emancipation, after reports that dozens of schools in the famously
liberal Netherlands refused to accept a glossy brochure on
While Clemence Ross, the junior minister of welfare who is due
Tuesday to present a report on gay emancipation, maintained that
the process was very successful, a majority of parliament took the
schools' refusal to be a sign that more still needs to be done.
The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalise
same-sex marriages in 2001 and has long been seen as a beacon of
The government is proposing to reduce funding for gay
emancipation, but in the wake of the row over the brochures, a
majority of political parties in the parliament now say more money
should be set aside.
"It is ridiculous that school management decides for their
students that it is bad to read about homosexuality," a spokesman
for the opposition Labour party told the ANP news agency.
"The Netherlands is not tolerant enough by far to cut back on
funding for (gay) emancipation," said Ruud Luchtenveld of the
parliamentary faction of the Liberals, part of the ruling
The parliament will debate with Ross about gay emancipation and
funding on Tuesday after she presents her report.
The controversy began in October when the gay youth magazine
Expreszo sent a special issue, financed in part by the Dutch
ministry of education, to almost every Dutch secondary school.
Expreszo's editor in chief Merijn Henfling said Monday that
dozens of schools had refused to take it.
"Mostly Christian schools or schools with a large population of
students of foreign descent refused. They either said they did not
want to discuss homosexuality in this way or expressed fear about a
possible negative reaction from students and parents," Henfling
Expreszo published a reaction from one Rotterdam school on its
website which read: "I do not appreciate receiving your magazine
without asking for it. I can only imagine the reactions of most of
the parents of our students of foreign descent."
A Protestant school said the magazine was not in line with its
"Protestant character" and that it did not want its students to be
informed about homosexuality "in such a casual manner".
According to Expreszo publishers, the magazine was deliberately
toned down for the school campaign and focused on heterosexual
attitudes towards gays.
Although the magazine received 20 angry responses, Henfling said
it was likely that many more schools had discarded the magazine
without contacting him.
He said it showed that the Netherlands still has a long way to
go on the subject of gay emancipation, especially among young
"The Netherlands is not the gay paradise everybody thinks. Just
because we have laws allowing same sex marriages and all that
doesn't mean that people's moral principles have adapted," Henfling
"Everywhere in the world it is the same: if you're young and gay
while everyone around you is heterosexual it is very difficult to
come out. In school the universal rule is: if you don't fit in, you
get picked on."
A study carried out by Expreszo – which in Dutch roughly
translates as 'On Purpose' – 40 percent of gay students polled
said they felt discriminated against. – Sapa-AFP
Gay marriage old news in Netherlands and other nations [05/03/2004]