SHOCK: Is Holland’s Amnesty International Eliminating LGBT Rights From ‘Priorities’?


You would expect an organization like Amnesty International — which dubs itself “working to protect human rights” — to view LGBT equality as paramount in this day and age. Persecution, harassment, and violence are still aimed at queers globally, just like they are against women and other minorities. So how come Amnesty Holland just removed LGBTs from its list of priorities, effectively deleting queer equality from its agenda? Or is it all just a misunderstanding?

Limited resources? Lack of worthwhile causes to go after? In a letter sent to volunteers, Amnesty International’s Nettie Tetelepta writes:

Dear volunteers,

On saturday 1 August, Amnesty International was visible for half a million people at the Gaypride by joining the parade with the Amnestyboat. We’ve gotten a lot of respect and appreciation for this, judging by the reactions from people who stood on the sides of the canal. Come 2010 we will unfortunately be unable to join the Gaypride.

Amnesty Holland has, regrettably, decided that in the years 2010-2016, LGBT rights will NO LONGER be a priority. Factually this means that we are not allowed to have an Amnestyboat at Gaypride, there will not be any more cases (actions) on which we can take action, we will no longer gather signatures for LGBT causes, etc.

This means we can still join LGBT activities but without contributing. We feel that we cannot add to these activities this way and we have therefore decided to disband the regional LGBT network. This includes our LGBT FNU Hyves page, as we cannot use the Amnesty name. I regret having to undertake these actions but I have no choice seeing as I, as an LGBT network, can’t offer you anything if I can’t focus on content. It has been hard as it is to get a LGBT case from London this year.

Come 31 December, the FNU LGBT network shall be disband and the Hyves page removed.
I thank you all for your hard work and wish you all the best of luck.

That prompted a one Alice Verheij, who at one point tried joining the organization as a volunteer, to write Amensty headquarters demanding a response. They offered:

Dear Alice,

Amnesty International fights for a world where all human rights are accepted. This includes the right to protection against discrimination on grounds of one’s sexual orientation. Amnesty International The Netherlands has decided to focus on four major themes in the coming period. These themes include poverty, freedom of speech, and protection against discrimination. Recently amnesty organized political support in Holland for the European antidiscrimination aim.

LGBT-rights in the Netherlands will get a lot less attention from Amnesty. This won’t mean that Amnesty will do nothing with the subject or that we will not have an opinion about it. If need be, we will make our voice heard. But the priority has been lowered because our country has a lot of organizations fighting for LGBT-rights. If amnesty can add to that, we will but we prefer to do it by supporting existing initiatives of others.

The right to free sexual orientation remains a universal human right what has Amnesty International’s unwavering support. The decision has been made for Amnesty The Netherlands alone. Other amnesty-sections will establish their own priorities. The Dutch section will remain an active participant in Amnesty’s international LGBT network. We will also keep supporting the work of other European sections.

Concerning our volunteers, of which you have been one for many years, we thank you for your support. We will keep an open line of communication with various LGBT networks within Amnesty.

Kind regards,

Eduard Nazarski

Not only has Amnesty Holland had a role in Dutch gay prides, they’ve fought for more broad justices, like ending school bullying. And as progressive as Holland might be from the outside, LGBTs will forever be persecuted there. So why the Holland chapter of Amnesty is yanking LGBTs from their agenda is a question needing an answer.

And Amnesty International, the chapter’s parent, is hoping to provide one. Namely, that this is a chapter-specific decision, and not one from headquarters. Translated from

Amnesty International has no plans to work against discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT’s) to stop.

In various media was wrongly reported that Amnesty International (AI) work against discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) with effect from next year will stop. On that message appeared under the headline “Amnesty stop commitment to gay rights” and headlined “Amnesty sail late gay rights”. “These messages are based on a misunderstanding”, said Eduard Nazarski, director of Amnesty International Netherlands.

Amnesty International has an international policy adopted last summer for the period 2010 – 2016 which prohibits discrimination against a significant part. In this policy based on international and European plans for 2010 and 2011 the organization set themselves against discrimination, including based on sexual orientation. Amnesty International in Europe will again actively participate in several Gay Prides, as the organization did in the past few years, for example, Riga (Latvia) in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and Budapest (Hungary) in 2009.

Amnesty International also puts in a good action for 2010 European directive against discrimination, discrimination based on sexual orientation within the European Union to fight.

Amnesty International Netherlands recently offered some 35,000 signatures to the House of the Dutch and international efforts of the organization for an effective European anti-discrimination directive force to. In 2010 Amnesty International Netherlands remains in the House and the government insist on Dutch support for this Directive. Other European branch of Amnesty International will again campaign for EU-wide support for the directive.

In 2010, Amnesty International Netherlands again actively cooperate and participate in European Gay Prides. “We obviously see that our commitment is most needed, in the Netherlands or elsewhere in the world. We are an international organization whose care and commitment do not stop at the Dutch border. Therefore, we in the Netherlands less visible campaigning at festivals and elsewhere in Europe rose more precisely, “said Nazarski.

It’s all still a bit confusing. While Amnesty International, the global org, has reaffirmed its commitment to LGBTs, it’s still unclear whether Amnesty Holland, which operates with some autonomy, is dropping queers from the agenda. Also unclear: Why Amnesty Holland would be writing these responses about quitting queers if it’s not the case.

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  • An

    I’ve been reading Dutch articles on this, but it’s quite confusing with conflicting reports. They’re spinning. From what I read, it seems that though they won’t entirely drop them from the agenda, the Dutch AI say they don’t have much to contribute in the Netherlands due to there being many organisations for gay rights already doing a good job on their own. Internationally they will continue to promote gay rights, but in the Netherlands they don’t see the need for it to be a priority of theirs any more. At the same time discrimination outside of the Netherlands will be less of a focus as well. Like I said, conflicting reports. Reactions from Dutch newspapers and gay rights groups I’ve read are pretty negative, criticizing Amnesty International Netherlands, and saying gay support in the Netherlands as a whole seems to be waning lately.

  • Cam

    Holland has had a huge amount of trouble with some very strick muslims in the country. They have warned Dutch kids not to wear clothing or other items with the Dutch flag on them in certain neighborhoods because they will be inviting attacks. This is a translation of the article that appeared…

    “”In the Netherlands the national flag is now banned on most schools. If a student wears the national flag of his own country he will be suspended or expelled from school. The reason for this is that this provokes the immigrants (the muslims) and therefore it is considered discrimination if you wear your country’s flag in your own country. Even people who have an bumpersticker whit the flag on their car are harassed and called a facist by the Muslims. Most schools also ban certain clothing like the Lonsdale brand and combat boots with white or red laces. This is also concidered a sign of racism. “”

    So who knows, if such pressure can get a countries own flag banned in school, perhaps Netherlands Amnesty is bowing to similar pressure to stop supporting gay rights.

  • An

    Cal, can I ask where you got that article? AFAIK, this was only an incident at one or two schools, and it wasn’t a ban but a strong suggestion, with no consequences attached. It’s not banned in most schools at all, and not in mine. The Lonsdale brand has been adopted by Neo-nazi’s, that’s where the negative connotations are from, though it’s not banned by my school either.

    There is not a huge amount of trouble with muslims. There’s a huge amount of trouble with discrimination against them, and some more fervent muslim people, who are not the majority. Young muslims are less fervent in their religion due to their growing up with Dutch cultures.

    I don’t think that’s what’s happening. I don’t like or agree with the idea of theirs that their help with LGBT issues is less necessary, but I just think they’re wrong, I don’t think they’re that wussy and lazy that they would just give up what they stand for because of minor backlash that would just prove that they are needed.

  • An

    *Cam, sorry.

  • Wen

    Hi, this all was a misunderstanding, Amnesty will continue in the Netherlands on gay/lesbian rights. I dont know where/how the misunderstanding was created, but in Holland too, many were concerned about this.
    Gays here arent really persecuted, not for their rights. We have a minister of gay emancipation, which ofcourse indicates there is still a lot of work to do, and sure we have gaybashing and homophobia, and some other issues that need serious work and attention, its just really not as bad as in the US, and never has been and never will be.
    The group that is mainly discriminated against here now are the muslims, which pains me. Not by the government, but by a small group of people (15-20%). Ironically this led to homosexuality being even more accepted (because Islam rejects it). There are also many muslims who secularize, as An mentioned.
    Tomorrow our national parlement will have a debate day on gay/lesbian issues in the Netherlands and what can be improved. The only parties against homosexuality are (ofcourse) some small religious parties we have. 83% of the Dutch support gay marriage, and still do after almost 9 years.

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