Amsterdam Pride under pressure after chair linked refugee kids to war criminals

Amsterdam Pride under pressure after chair linked refugee kids to war criminals

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Amsterdam Pride's famous boat parade.

A row has blown up after the chair of Amsterdam Pride said refugee kids are the children of war criminals.

Speaking on the NPO1 Radio programme Frits Huffnagel, a former politician, talked about the refugee crisis in Turkey and Greece.

He said: ‘These people [refugees] should not be coming here.’

Asked why, he added:

‘Because almost none of them will be allowed the chance to stay here. And it’s always the same thing. We see a child and think “oh how sad” while we don’t see a father behind it who might have committed war crimes and a mother who might have facilitated that.’

Furthermore, addressing the issue later on social media, Huffnagel tweeted:

‘They aren’t bombing for no reason.’

Racism and xenophobia are not acceptable

Now 96 organisations have signed a letter demanding Huffnagel steps down as chair.

Moreover they are calling for Amsterdam Pride – not only the biggest in The Netherlands but also one of the most famous LGBT+ celebrations in the world – to be more inclusive.

The open letter says:

‘Mr Huffnagel clearly states that refugees are not welcome, and the consecutive remarks show that this is not an issue of poor phrasing.

‘These remarks are not appropriate for a chairman of the board of Pride Amsterdam Foundation; a celebration that is supposed to be about inclusion and acceptance of everyone.’

The letter goes on to cite Pride’s own rules in calling for Huffnagel to go.

And it tells organizers:

‘It is unacceptable that Pride Amsterdam is led by a chairman who sees refugees through this xenophobic lens.

‘Racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia are not personal opinions from which you as an organisation can distance yourself.

‘They’re institutional systems that maintain oppressive structures that Amsterdam Pride should be fighting, regardless of whether or not the victims are LGBTQI+-refugees. 

‘By keeping a chairman like Frits Huffnagel in place, you show that Pride Amsterdam does not adhere to its own Guiding Principles.’

‘I didn’t expect my views to be linked so strong to Pride’

So far, Huffnagel has refused to leave his post.

But he has admitted his comments have caused hurt.

In a press release (translated) from Amsterdam Gay Pride Foundation (AGP), he said:

‘I want to apologize and regret that my words have grieved and hurt part of our supporters.

‘Of course I value freedom of speech. Unfortunately, I’m assigned views on the internet that I don’t have.

‘However, I didn’t expect my opinion to be linked so strongly to the Pride organization. I should have assessed that better. I’m taking my lesson here for the future.

‘Of course I continue to work for the pride community, as I have done with a lot of passion and love in recent years.’

‘AGP does have an opinion on LGBTI refugees’

Meanwhile, the Pride Amsterdam board say most of the organization doesn’t share Huffnagel’s view. And it accepts he should have given his opinion ‘in a more nuanced way’.

However, it says board members hold ‘many private views’ and that Huffnagel was speaking ‘in a personal capacity’.

But the board then goes on to say it doesn’t have a view about LGBT+ refugees. It says (translated):

‘AGP has no political color. Our constituency consists of LGBTIs with opinions divided across the entire political spectrum.

‘Within Pride Amsterdam there is room for all political parties and views, of course within the limits of the law.

‘Our organization will never make general (political) statements. AGP does have an opinion on LGBTI refugees in particular, nor about refugees in general.’

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Author: Tris Reid-Smith