Out pro volleyball player and Olympic champion Douglas Souza used his massive social media platform this week to share about the homophobia he and his boyfriend experienced at an airport in the Netherlands. Now, a spokesperson for the border patrol is speaking out, and they are offering a very different version of what happened.
In a video posted to his Instagram stories yesterday, the 26-year-old Olympic athlete explained that he and his boyfriend, Gabriel, were passing through the Netherlands on their way to Italy when a border patrol official seemed to take issue with the fact that they were a gay couple.
“Basically, it was me and my boyfriend, we took a flight from São Paulo to Amsterdam and there we had to go through passport control to go to Rome,” he explained. “Until then everything was calm. By the time we went to control, the guy was super cool. He asked me what I was going to do in Italy. I explained that I was a volleyball player.”
But when Souza, who is currently the most followed pro volleyball player in the world on Instagram, explained that Gabriel was his boyfriend, he says “the treatment changed.”
According to Sausa, the official called another man over, who led the two into a different area and told them to wait.
“They left us there for about five hours without any kind of explanation,” he recalled. “After about five or six hours, they called me in a small room to ask what I was going to do there.”
“They hit the key again about who Gabriel was and I tried to explain that it was my boyfriend and they had a lot of difficulty understanding. We had the document of the common-law marriage. They absolutely didn’t want to let Gabriel pass.”
But according to Mike Hofman, a spokesperson for the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee on matters relating to border control, cross-border crime, and migration, the treatment Sausa and his boyfriend received was not fueled by homophobia, but instead had to do with a travel ban between Brazil and the Netherlands.
“Currently, there is a travel ban between Brazil and the Netherlands. Passengers from Brazil are only allowed entry into the Netherlands when they fall under one of the exemption categories,” Hofman explains in a statement to Queerty.
“Sometimes this is quite difficult to determine. That’s when we do a second-line border control in a separate room. On the flight of Mr. Souza, there were multiple passengers that had to go through a second-line border check.”
Hofman says everyone who was held was processed within six hours and were eventually allowed entry into the Netherlands.
“Obviously, Mr. Souza’s sexual orientation had nothing to do with these checks,” he affirms. “Our officers are supposed to treat everyone in a respectful manner, regardless of their sexual orientation. If Mr. Souza feels that he wasn’t treated appropriately, we ask him to file a complaint with us.”
Queerty reached out to Souza for additional comment and to ask whether he filed a complaint. We will update this post if we hear back.
Graham Gremore is the Features Editor and a Staff Writer at Queerty. Follow him on Twitter @grahamgremore.