Harassment in gay cruising areas 'increasing'

7th January 2004, Comments 0 comments

7 January 2004, AMSTERDAM — National gay organisation COC Nederland has claimed that police and local government officials are increasingly mounting intensive surveillance of known homosexual meeting areas and handing out fines to men who meet there.

7 January 2004

AMSTERDAM — National gay organisation COC Nederland has claimed that police and local government officials are increasingly mounting intensive surveillance of known homosexual meeting areas and handing out fines to men who meet there.

COC warned that this approach would further deter gay men from going to the police when they are attacked in these cruising areas.

The organisation has called the police, health boards and local governments to formulate a "coherent, long-term policy" to deal with attacks on homosexuals, to promote safe sex and tackle prostitution and underage sex.

Saying that "police are no longer your best friend", COC chairman Henk Beerten implied that politicians and the police were giving the signal that gays should not frequent parks and nature areas around the country.

Victims of anti-homosexual violence are now afraid the reaction will be that being attacked was their own fault. "That is naturally not the intention, but it has that effect," Beerten said.

"We see the consequences of the current short-sighted policy, long warned about by COC, in the Zuiderpark in Rotterdam. A group of young people have gone unpunished for months despite attacking and robbing men looking to meet other gay men. Let this be a signal that a more responsible policy is needed to prevent worse happening," he said.

COC has been criticising what it deems are the "short-sighted" policies of local officials for months.

In an article in newspaper De Volkskrant in August 2003, Beertens claimed that toleration had become a thing of the past since the meteoric rise, then assassination of murder of openly-gay populist politician Pim Fortuyn in May 2002.

"The trademark is decisive leadership. In practise, this is mainly directed towards self-publicity and in their eyes 'purifying' with overtly repressive measures," Beertens wrote.

Separately, a new study has suggested that informational brochures on HIV intended for young gay men should be simpler.

This is one of the main conclusions reached by academics from Utrecht and Maastricht universities and market research bureau Sellvation.

The team surveyed 157 young gay men and found that information on HIV risks should be adapted to make it more accessible to young  gay men with a low level of education. Additional attention also had to be given to situations in which men "found it difficult" to have safe sex, the report said.

Interestingly, the study found that providing more information on safe sex had no affect. Instead, the brochures had to concentrate more on difficult situations. After reading such focused information, many men in the experiment said they planned to practise safe sex.

Dutch people are generally considered to be well informed about the dangers of unsafe sex. But an earlier study carried out by Utrecht University and the health board in Amsterdam found that a lot of unsafe sex still takes place, particularly young gay men with a low educational level, Novum news agency reported.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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