Openly gay troops in the Dutch defense
ministry joined for the first time Amsterdam's massive Gay Pride
The city's 16th annual
parade arrives just four months after gay marriage in the Netherlands
celebrated its tenth anniversary. The country became the first to
legalize such unions on April 1, 2001. Six additional European
countries have followed the Netherlands' lead, including Spain,
Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Portugal and, most recently, Iceland.
The AFP reported that hundreds of
thousands of people gathered to cheer a parade of at least 80
brightly decorated boats sail through the city's canals.
“Every year it's a huge party because
we can go out in plain daylight and show who we are and because we
can show people what gay culture is like,” said Malik, 23, who
attended the parade with his boyfriend.
Anti-gay sentiment continues in the
Netherlands, despite the gains of the past decade.
“In the Netherlands we have what we
call tolerance at a distance,” said Vera Bergkamp, president of the
Amsterdam-based gay rights group COC. “People are tolerant as
long as homosexuality stays out of their view.”
Gay marriages made up roughly 2 percent
of the country's total number of marriages between 2001 and 2010,
nearly 15,000 couples.