Pink Pearls Magazine Issue Nr. 1
presents the European lesbian scene
Fighters for gay rights in Moldova deserve our support
Preparations for our Amsterdam Gay Pride are in full swing. The organization is increasingly busy with programs, venues, singers and speakers, Pride participants are deciding on what music to have on their boat and are making lists of who can join on it this year, and all those on the list have started thinking about what festive outfit they will choose for the most important LGBT event of the year.
In Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, the LGBT event of the year already took place a couple of weeks ago. It is every year in the first week of May. Just like last year, I was invited to this ‘Rainbow over the Dniester festival’ as a guest from the European Parliament. The contrast with our Amsterdam Pride is enormous.
Where in Amsterdam every year thousands of people, gay and straight, young and old, come and watch the Pride to dance, laugh and cheer the participants, in Moldova it all takes place behind closed doors. Nine times, a 'peaceful public manifestation' (their euphemism for a pride) was prohibited or prevented. This year was the tenth festival, and the organization did not even try to hold a public event. In the preceding months, emotions were running so high about a proposal for a new anti-discrimination law that included sexual orientation, that they didn't want to do that to state authorities and more importantly to themselves. Politicians and religious fanatics tumbled over each other in homophobic statements, calling for violence against gay men and lesbians, and there was even an American evangelist flown in to proclaim his hateful message in Moldova. Meanwhile, the Board of Aldermen in Amsterdam is working on their enthusiastic speeches for the Amsterdam Pride, and the ministries in the Netherlands are looking at which ministers will sail on the Canal Pride boats.
Despite the resistance and fear among the wonderful people of GenderDoc-M, the Moldovan LGBT organization, there was one activity in public. With about twenty people, mostly foreign visitors, balloons were let up in the form of a Gay Flashmob. As the press was not informed in advance of time and place, hooligans and extremists luckily did not find out what the plans were. Journalists followed us to the location, and wanted to hear from me what I thought of it all. That is the best thing about being a Member of the European Parliament: I get the chance to send a clear message to the Moldovan authorities. If Moldova one day hopes to join the European Union, then they have to show themselves a mature democracy that respects human rights. The right to demonstrate, the right to be free from discrimination. And especially the right to be yourself and love anyone you want. My message was broadcasted on national television all night, let's hope it helps a little.
There are also similarities between the Moldovan and Amsterdam Pride. In both cities, it is the highlight of the year for the LGBT community, and no one in Moldova is going to let anyone take that away. Behind closed doors in a hired nightclub, transgenders, transvestites, gay men, lesbians and bisexuals danced the night away in the most amazing outfits. This is their party. Because there was no press at the parties this year, it was twice as busy as previous years because the people who don't want to be recognized by friends and family could come too. The number of Moldovan gay men and lesbians at the festival is growing steadily. That makes this festival so important; it is an opportunity to give people courage and give them the chance to come out and feel safe to do so, at least for these three days.
To conclude on a political note: the Netherlands have always been a major donor for gay rights in Moldova, but that has unfortunately ended. The Dutch money spent abroad will be transferred to countries where the Netherlands have economic interests. Moldova, as the poorest country in Europe, certainly doesn’t qualify for that. Fortunately, Sweden and the US continue their efforts, but the days when I felt proud of the efforts of my country for human rights elsewhere are over. I still think it is bizarre that the right-wing liberals, VVD, and the Freedom Party, PVV, scored highest among the Dutch gay community. Because those parties may be tough on homophobia in our own country, but they abandon the countries where the human rights of gays and lesbians are needed most. The people who fight for rights in Moldova deserve all the support we can offer. I hope that in three years time (or sooner of course), that aid will be offered again from the Netherlands.
What else is in this issue?
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