Dennis de Jong: ‘East European gay emancipation must come from below’

17 May 2009

Dennis de Jong: ‘East European gay emancipation must come from below’

Yesterday's SP solidarity demonstration in Amsterdam in support of the Gay Pride march in Latvia's capital, Riga, was a major success. The parade in Latvia was free of any violent incidents, according to Latvian organisations of gays and Lesbians. Dennis de Jong used the SP demonstration to issue a call, in Russian, to the Russian government to put an end to discrimination against homosexuals.

Dennis De Jong

During the demonstration there was a live connection with Riga. Activists from Amnesty International interviewed homosexual rights activists in the city, the Baltic States' largest. The activists confirmed that support from Amsterdam was of the greatest importance to them. Support from abroad gave them the feeling that they were protected. In contrast to previous years there was no violence against those who participated in the Gay Pride procession.

“Laws and regulations are not enough."

De Jong opened the evening, arguing that you can only bring about a change in mentality from below. “Laws and regulations are important but not sufficient to resist discrimination. What is in people's heads you can't change overnight simply through laws. Person-to-person contact, in the end that's what it's about." And that is what the representatives of the Netherlands' political parties, with the conspicuous absence of the Christian Democrats and the Christian Union, agreed in Amsterdam, signing a declaration in which they promised that the city would work closely with Riga in support of the movement of gays and Lesbians, offering financial support as well.

“Stop discrimination against homosexuals”

In Moscow today demonstrations of homosexuals were banned, while anti-gay demos were allowed. In his speech, Dennis de Jong called on the Russian ambassador to put pressure on his country's authorities to respect the rights of homosexuals: "Put an end as quickly as possible to discrimination against gays and Lesbians."

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