Dutch mixed messages on asylum trouble Russian gay community

Published: December 3, 2013

 When a senior Dutch diplomat was attacked and beaten in his Moscow apartment in October and the letters “LGBT” scrawled in red lipstick on a mirror, the gay community worldwide knew it instantly as a homophobic assault on the Netherlands’ long and uncompromising support for gay rights.

 
In comparison with Russia, which recently introduced a new law banning homosexual “propaganda” aimed at minors, so-called “gay sex” has been legal in the Netherlands since 1811, and this country probably has the most progressive lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights in the world, from adoption to access to IVF.
 
That’s why embattled gay-rights activists have always looked to the Netherlands as a touchstone for confirmation of their equal and equally extensive rights as other citizens, an entitlement all too frequently and aggressively denied elsewhere. They have rarely been disappointed by the Dutch government.
 
An example of that willingness to speak when other countries might diplomatically bite their lips was foreign minister Frans Timmermans’s rejection this time last year of Pope Benedict’s contention that gay marriage amounted to “manipulation of nature” and destroyed the very “essence of the human creature”.
 
Noting the Netherlands had legalised same-sex marriage in April 2001, the first country in the world to do so, Timmermans said: “If every person is unique and individual, then why should each unique person not have the right to stand up for their own sexual orientation? Why can Romeo marry Juliet but not Julius?”
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