Uniformed soldiers to join Gay Pride parade

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Soldiers given permission by defence ministry to attend Gay Pride parade in military attire.

The Hague – Soldiers received permission from the ministry of defence to wear their uniforms during the annual Gay Pride canal parade in Amsterdam Saturday.

The soldiers were instructed to take care that they wear “the correct uniform”.

The ministry's permission marks a change from previous years when soldiers were forbidden to participate in the parade in military attire.

Military personnel were prohibited from wearing their uniforms during Gay Pride parade by the ministry of defense in 2008.

The same defence minister Eimert van Middelkoop and deputy defence minister, Sharon Dijkstra, presided over the decision to reverse the ban in 2009.

During the 2008 ban, the foundation representing homosexuals in the armed forces, the SH&K (Stichting Homoseksualiteit en Krijgsmacht), wrote a letter to defence minister Van Middelkoop questioning the decision.

Deputy defence minister Jack de Vries answered that an extravaganza like Gay Pride did not befit the dignity of the military uniform.

For the 2009 parade, eight military members will be on board the “FNV/Company Pride Platform boat,” alongside representatives of major multinational companies such as Cisco, IBM, Philips and Shell.

The theme of the boat will be “out of the closet works better”.

The participating organisations want to demonstrate their support for homosexual staff, said the FNV, a trade union confederation.

It pointed out that many gay men and lesbians still cannot be open about their sexuality in the workplace.

Additional military personnel will be on board the police boat. Amsterdam's police force joined the Gay Pride Parade for the first time in 2008.

The ministry stressed that the soldiers' participation is of their own initiative, and the ministry itself is not involved.

Radio Netherlands / Expatica

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