Gay capital risks losing reputation after bashing
9 May 2005
AMSTERDAM — The bashing of a prominent American gay has sparked international controversy and is threatening the ‘pink’ tourist industry in Amsterdam.
Merijn Henfling, editor-in-chief of gay youth magazine ‘Expreszo’, said the incident was lethal for the image of Amsterdam as a gay capital, newspaper ‘Het Parool’ reported on Monday.
Chris Crain, the chief editor of the influential gay magazine ‘Washington Blade’, was assaulted on Queen’s Day in Amsterdam. He claims the people who assaulted him were Moroccans.
As he was walking to his hotel with a friend on 30 April, one of his attackers spat in Crain’s face. “The man, in his 20s, had Moroccan looks and spoke with a heavy accent as he mumbled about ‘fucking fags’,” he said.
According to the editor of the Dutch ‘Gay Krant’, Henk Krol, the story on the Blade’s website has hit the US like a bomb, newspaper ‘Parool’ reported.
The ‘Gay Advocate’, one of the most important gay magazines in the US, has published Crain’s story in full.
More than 40 reactions from shocked readers have since been sent to the Gay Krant in the Netherlands.
Krol has contacted Crain, who had earlier praised Amsterdam as the safest place for gays in the world. “I have explained to him that presently it is safer in the countryside for homosexuals than in the large Dutch cities,” Krol said.
A survey by gay lobby group COC has found that one in three gays no longer dare to walk hand-in-hand in the city centre.
Gay Business Amsterdam spokesman Siep de Haan said the Dutch capital is losing its gay tourism edge in favour of Barcelona and Paris, due to issues of tolerance.
But Atef Salib, an official with the foundation Habibi Ana, a gay café for immigrants in the city centre, has not noticed rising aggression. “You have good and bad people, but it is known that homosexuality is difficult to harmonise with the Arab mentality.”
The director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Project at Human Rights Watch, Scott Long, believes the attack against Crain might be as much about current tensions over immigration as it is about homophobia, the website ‘gay.com’ reported.
There are almost a million Muslims living in the Netherlands, many of whom are immigrants from Morocco and Turkey.
Amid a culture clash with the predominantly Christian ethnic Dutch, immigrant Muslims have been reported to view homosexuality with disdain.
This view and differences over the treatment of women, concerns of immigrant crime and issues of integration have sparked a backlash against immigration from ethnic Dutch.
“‘There’s still an extraordinary degree of racism in Dutch society. Gays often become the victims of this when immigrants retaliate for the inequities that they have to suffer,” Long said.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Dutch news