Dutch Military at August’s Gay Pride

One distinct Amsterdam “happening” that we’ve been glad to cover previously in these pages is the “Gay Pride” festival, occurring each year the first weekend of August and with a crowded, often rather bawdy boat-parade along the outermost of the city’s famous set of concentric canals, the Prinsengracht, as its centerpiece. It’s always a blast for those who can hitch a ride along with one of the boats, or even get the funds together for one’s organization to sponsor its own such boat – as long as your organization does not mind the affiliation with the homosexual cause. These days, though, when it comes to Amsterdam it’s hard to think of many organizations that would mind, other than the Muslim ones.

Then again, up to now the Dutch military has also not been too happy with any sign of its presence at the Gay Pride parade – like soldiers floating along on the boats while in uniform, something that happened last year and led to some sort of uproar (presumably including sanctions against those military personnel). But now that has changed; the Volkskrant reports today (but in a story credited to the Dutch news agency ANP) that permanent Defense Ministry undersecretary (Staatssecretaris) Jack de Vries has announced, through a spokesman, that participating in Gay Pride in your uniform is OK – but that that should still in no way be interpreted as official Defense Ministry participation in, or endorsement of, the festival.

Perhaps the really interesting thing here is that this is not just some spontaneous decision from the Ministry, but rather is in reaction to encouragement from the Dutch lower house of Parliament (the Tweede Kamer) to make such a policy change. That, it seems, was ultimately among the more significant follow-on effects of last year’s controversy.

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