A new Dutch hotline to report harassment of gay people has received more than 200 reports in less than a month.
The hotline began late September and is being funded by the magazine The Gay Krant.
Its establishment followed an incident in The Hague where a gay couple was forced to move because of continued harassment by neighborhood boys.
Magazine publisher Henk Krol says:
“We wanted a handful of stories, but we were inundated with responses.”
The reports show that gay men are harassed almost everywhere. However “the only thing that stands out: almost no reports from the bible belt.” The bible belt encompasses the parts of the Netherlands strongly populated by conservative protestants.
There are numerous reports of feces in letterboxes and heterosexual porn being delivered to houses with notes like ‘this is right,’ Krol says.
“Furthermore, you often see that rotten eggs at the windows and doors are thrown. Very childish all.”
The most frequently heard complaint is of local policemen not taking problems seriously. Krol says that often police will say that the gay people involved brought problems on themselves by their visibility. “It’s the world upside down.” Krol says, adding that “relatively often” the problem comes from Moroccan Dutch boys.
The Netherlands still remains one of the most tolerant countries to the LGBT community. Recent studies by the Netherlands Institute for Social Research showed that 9 out of 10 Dutch people accept homosexuality. Ethnic minorities are less accepting, particularly Turkish Dutch (30 percent) and Moroccan Dutch (25 percent).
Krol said that the hotline is designed to support people and this takes time. With the large number of calls, he has pledged to provide the money for additional staff needed to process the messages.
The National Association of Anti-Discrimination Agencies (De Landelijke Branchevereniging van Antidiscriminatiebureaus, LBA) noted only one hundred official reports of gay people bullied by their neighbors in three years and suggested that the figures were only the ‘tip of the iceberg.’
The Dutch police are now recording every single instance of gay bullying or harassment. Previously these were not always recorded, leading to an perceived underplaying of problems.
The hotline was pranked by a Dutch radio show, Het Uitzendbureau. A man posed using the joke name Abdul Klapstuhl complaining that he was being bullied by two gay men from his neighborhood constantly inviting him to Tupperware parties or nude dancing on a boat in the canals of Amsterdam. The Amsterdam gay pride parade (pictured) happens on boats through the city’s canals.
The Dutch LGBT rights and advocacy organization COC helped to start gay/straight alliances in Dutch schools to tackle homophobia and improve acceptance of LGBT teens. Dutch GSA’s are now in their second year and will hold their 2nd Purple Friday on 9 December. Students wear purple armbands and buttons to draw attention to homophobia.
The Dutch Children’s Ombudsman, as part of an anti-bullying campaign, produced an online film ahead of the hotline launch.
It shows students in a classroom using homophobic language towards a boy called David.
An image is then shown of him hanging dead having committed suicide.
Amsterdam gay pride boat parade picture by Dean_In_SF