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Word of welcome Eunic-debate

Ladies and gentleman. Dear friends. Here in our meetingroom and you, watching us via the internet.

On behalf of the city of Amsterdam and it’s council I welcome you all to this special event.

We are on special grounds. Just about ten years ago history was written here. Three gays and one lesbian couple got married. Not a gay-marriage. No. A regular marriage between four same-sex couples. What was always to be considered to be impossible, became possible, here, ten years ago, in this room. It igniting a movement worldwide of countries joining the Netherland by opening their own marriage system for same-sex couples.

Amsterdam has an impressive record regarding LGBT. Amsterdam hosts the world oldest still existing LGBT-movement, the COC. We are proud of that.

Amsterdam hosts Pink in Blue, the LGBT-police taskforce that is now being implemented nationwide. And Amsterdam hosts Company Pride Platform.

In 1998 Amsterdam hosted the Gay Games, by many seen as the best ever. For the first time it was held outside the United State.

For many years Amsterdam was considered to be the number one Gay Capital. And it’s true. After 1998 the decline was there, in rapid pace other cities developed into Gay Capitals as well, LGBT-leisure decreased, unsafety was felt in the community.

But the last three years things are changing. More educational lessons at schools by the COC then ever are provided. The visibility of Pink in Blue is increased. Police-camera’s in areas were many gaypeople go out are supporting the fight against violence. And more has been implemented. Alderman van Es is implementing in a successful way the program that was set by her predecessor Ossel.

Earlier this year the town-council adopted a plan to strengthen Amsterdam as Gay Capital from a commercial point of view. The major of Amsterdam, van der Laan, reopened three big gay-venues two weeks ago in the internationally known gay-street Reguliersdwarsstraat. The joined forces of brewer Heineken and alderman Gehrels brought the success we needed so desperate.

Investments in social acceptance and the commercial side of Amsterdam Gay Capital is part of our program. Moral leadership is equally as important. When earlier this year we found out that Amsterdam has two “weigerambtenaren”, servants who are not willing to marry same-sex couples, alderman van der Burg was clear in his statement. In Amsterdam is no room for “weigerambtenaren”, so they will lose their jobs.

Two years ago Amsterdam attended the New York Gay Pride with a gigantic wedding pie. The statement made did not remain unconscious. We are proud that we could contribute a little bit on the fight for opening the marriage for samesex couples in New York.

The Amsterdam Gay Pride is growing every year. And it’s deepening it’s program more and more with culture and emancipation. The city of Amsterdam is proud to have people like Irene Hemelaar and her team that fulfilled the enormous task that Amsterdam Gay Pride is.

This event is special.

Not ProGay, not Amsterdam but countries abroad took the initiative for this debate and relating exhibitions. And yes, we do realize that in some of the participating countries the acceptance of homosexuality needs to improve. But by being part of this event, a step towards the future is made.

The city of Amsterdam is honored to be able to host you in the council-meetingroom. And we hope you will have a fruitful debate, in which I will participate as well, not as representative of the city of Amsterdam, but as the activist and politician that I am as well.

Have a nice Amsterdam Gay Pride.