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Dutch soldiers in uniform at Gay Canal Parade 2011

The Dutch defence ministry will this year for the first time officially participate in Amsterdam's Gay Pride Canal Parade, the event's organisers have announced.

Gay and lesbian members of the Dutch armed forces dressed in uniform, with the ministry's official 'blessing', will join the Saturday-afternoon parade - through some of the Dutch capital's world famous canals - on their own special boat.

The plan is the result an initiative by an organisation that represents homosexuals in the armed forces. The parade will take place on 6 August as part of the Amsterdam Gay Pride weekend.

The parade's organisers and the military gays organisation have both welcomed the news. They say officially sanctioned participation is a huge step forward in the social acceptance of gay and lesbian people in the armed forces. Two years ago, gay soldiers were not allowed to join the event. Last year they were granted permission to do so but only on a individual basis.

(cl/rk/tf)

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