Louis van Gaal, coach of the Dutch national football team, plans to stand up for the rights of gay players at the Amsterdam Gay Pride parade next month. Activitists in Germany, where no professional players are out, are hoping that their football officials will follow Gaal’s lead.
The main attraction in this year’s Gay Pride canal parade will be an orange float emblazoned with the letters KNVB, the abbreviation for Koninklijke Nederlandse Voetbal Bond, or Royal Dutch Football Association. Gaal will be the most prominent person on board.
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Last summer, Frank de Boer, the coach of the champion team Ajax Amsterdam, made a remark which irritated his fellow citizens, about the supposed lack of athleticism of gay men. Irene Hemelaar, organizer of the Amsterdam Gay Pride event, said De Boer’s crude remark was “not homophobic, but simple-minded.” De Boer apologized publicly, but refused to attend Hemelaar’s invitation to last year’s Amsterdam Gay Pride event.
That’s one of the reasons Hemelaar sees Louis van Gaal’s acceptance as a “milestone for the international gay and lesbian movement,” and predicts that the canals “will rock.”
Gay organizations in Germany are looking to capitalize on all the hype surrounding the Dutch parade, in an attempt to get the German Football Association (DFB) more strongly involved in their fight against marginalization and discrimination.
While social organizations compete for a spot in Amsterdam’s Gay Pride event, organizers practically have to beg groups to participate in German parades. “Social policy moves at a slower pace there,” says Robert Thewessen, a Dutch citizen who has helped organize Berlin’s Christopher Street Day for the past two years.
The DFB disclaims accusations that it is not interested. Although the organization continues to oppose discrimination against gays and lesbians, it is perhaps not quite as vocally and publicly as in the past, cited officials at the DFB’s Frankfurt headquarters. [ABC]