International activists from homophobic regions during Amsterdam Gay Pride hosted by RNW
The international activists meet with the mayor in the center of Amsterdam during Amsterdam Gay Pride 2014
RNW/Michiel Bles

RNW to host activists from homophobic regions during Amsterdam Gay Pride

In disguise and under an assumed name. That’s how one LGBT activist will be telling her story during Amsterdam Gay Pride. Just talking about homosexuality is dangerous in many regions. But eight young activists from countries including China, Uganda and Egypt have accepted the invitation to come to Amsterdam issued by Dutch media organisation RNW.

From 26 July to 3 August, they’ll be sharing their experiences with each other, local LGBT communities, media, NGOs and politicians. And joining the Amsterdam canal parade in an RNW boat on Saturday 2 August.

One of the other activists, 22-year-old Ramy, was the first Egyptian to publicly come out of the closet when he announced the news via Twitter last year. The response was a wave of serious threats via social media. His family denounced him and he was robbed and beaten by a group of people from his local community.

RNW Director Robert Zaal: “Talking openly about your sexual orientation can be extremely risky. Gay Pride here in the Netherlands is a safe place for them to share their stories and increase their knowledge and network. In some cases precautions are necessary. The young woman mentioned earlier for instance. Her name and appearance must be changed – otherwise she won’t be safe when she returns to Morocco.”


Planned programme in the Netherlands
The activists will be taking part in a variety of events between 26 July and 3 August. The event ‘Break the Taboo on Love’ for an invited audience of activists, NGOs and journalists will take place on Thursday 31 July. They will also meet during the week with Amsterdam city councillor Andrée van Es and take part in a meeting organised by Dutch LGBT group the COC.

On Wednesday evening, the public have a chance to meet the activists at a Club Music Party organised by RNW in gay bar Prik. And they’ll take part in the Canal Pride parade on Saturday 2 August in a boat sponsored by the Dutch media organisation RNW – a public celebration of the LGBT community unthinkable in their homelands.  

The visit by the activists is the result of work done by RNW over the past 18 months. “In countries where freedom of expression is restricted we work with local partners to create safe sites such as Love in Kenya where young people can discuss issues including sexual orientation,” says Zaal.

By bringing them to Amsterdam, the activists can exchange ideas and experiences with LGBT peers in China, Latin America, Africa and the Arab world. It is the first time that RNW will have its own boat in the Canal Pride parade.

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