Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Homophobic World Congress of Families kicks off in Amsterdam

Watching Saskia’s vlog about the Amsterdam Canal Pride might give you the impression that Amsterdam and all of the Netherlands is a tolerant, accepting, utopical kind of place for everything that is gay.

Think again. The Netherlands is not so much pro gay, as it is liberal and tolerant towards just about anything. What am I talking about?

Today in Amsterdam the World Congress of Families kicks off, a Christian conference organised by very strong believers of traditional families or what they like to call ‘the natural family’. By natural they of course mean one man and one woman, as well as a certain number of kids.

The emphasis of the conference will be on the importance of strict family values, which would be fine, if it did not have a very strong anti-feminism, anti-sexuality, anti-abortion, anti-EU, and especially anti-gay focus.

I had a look on their website, and I just could not believe some of the things I was reading. By the way, do not visit their website, unless you are not easily upset and genuinely want to find out more. I’ll give you some of the highlights instead.

They have some principles they live by, including a very rigid view on sexuality:

“Sexuality is ordered for the procreation of children and the expression of love between husband and wife in the covenant of marriage. Marriage between a man and a woman forms the sole moral context for natural sexual union. Whether through pornography, promiscuity, incest or homosexuality, deviations from these created sexual norms cannot truly satisfy the human spirit. They lead to obsession, remorse, alienation, and disease.”

What I find interesting is how they always lump everything together, like homosexuality, pornography and incest are all the same. Then again, if you truly believe sex is only for procreation, I guess I can understand everything else might bother you.

What bothers me is that reading their website feels like you’re being brainwashed, and what is even more worrying is that they have pages of ‘scientific evidence’ to back up all their claims.

They actually link to stuff that says telling kids to use condoms is medical misinformation, why feminism is wrong, the dangers of same-sex marriage and even claiming there is a link between abortion and getting cancer. I could go on and on, but you get the general idea.

I feel that everyone has the right to believe what they want and live their life the way they want to, and if they have to hold a big conference to spread their crap, go right ahead. But why does it have to take place in Amsterdam of all places? And more importantly, why is the Dutch government actually supporting this?

Yes, you read that correctly. The Dutch government might not officially support or agree with the conference, but we have our MP of Youth and Family Rouvoet (of the Christian Party) giving the opening speech of this conference.

The official statement about this is that he will speak in name of the Dutch government and will actually try to defend our gender neutral marriage laws. Try to being the key words here, as his spokesperson already said it will not be a plea for same sex parenting.

He is not the only Dutch MP who will be speaking at this conference, despite the many protests from inside and outside of the Netherlands that participating in this event, even when advocating a different opinion, is sending out the wrong message to the world. Some might think the Dutch government is saying extreme negative views about homosexuality are ok.

Luckily, other people have more sense than the Dutch government. Six Dutch researchers who had initially agreed to participate at this conference, dropped out once they found out about the gay-unfriendly tone of the conference.

You might wonder what exactly this gay-unfriendly tone means. Well, the organisers had initially planned a workshop entitled “How to prevent homosexuality” which they were forced to remove from the official program after there was too much protest about it. However, they still have plenty of ‘good stuff’ left, like a talk by Slovak MEP Anna Zaoborsla, who once said that AIDS is God’s way of punishing homosexuals.

Conferences like this one show us that we still have a long way to go. I don’t think there will ever be a time when there won’t be people who want to hold a conference like this, but the least we can hope for is less tolerance and support for these kinds of initiatives.

This article was first published on eurOut.

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