Jan Willem Duyvendak, Professor of Sociology and Programme leader of the Research group Dynamics of Citizenship and Culture at the AISSR (Amsterdam Institute of Social Science Research),and UvA-colleagues Gert Hekma, Assistant Professor Gay & Lesbian Studies, Laurens Buijs, PhD-candidate in the research project Solidarity in the 21st Century: Ageing, Migration, and Solidarity, Tony Coelho and Sasha Albert, both Graduates in Gender, Sexuality, and Society, discuss a variety of topics varying from gay male open relationships and sex between women in public places to the contradictory attitudes that Dutch society, culture and politics have been showing towards LGBT people.
The latter issue is addressed in relation with both antigay violence and the puzzling example of the Netherlands as gay-friendly country. «So while the Netherlands may seem exemplary in its acceptance of homosexuality, this applies more to its laws than to daily life (p. 628)… social acceptance of non-hetero-normativity remains thin and often opportunistic (p. 629)».
The latter opportunism is what strikes me as most puzzling when looking at how Dutch right-wing and populist politicians keep relating the defense of LGBT rights with their anti-immigrant stances. Indeed a Dutch contradiction, at least in the eyes of someone coming, like me, from a country which has no good reputation or tradition with regard to LGBT people’s rights, and where just right-wing parties are amongst the fiercest opponents to gay rights, just as fiercely (and “unpuzzingly”) as they are in their anti-immigrants stances.
Photo of the plaque commemorating the world’s first same-sex marriage in 2001 at the Amsterdam City Hall comes from the site of COC (Cultuur- en Ontspannings Centrum), the Dutch LGBT rights organization.