Canal Parade: 'Highlight of a month of LGBTI activities’

Last Saturday, 28 staff members from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs took part in Pride Amsterdam’s Canal Parade. They included the ministry’s Secretary-General Yoka Brandt, who was there to represent all the secretaries-general of Dutch central government ministries.

Joining them were over 100 colleagues from 10 different government organisations on the boat of Dutch Government Pride. This is an umbrella organisation of LGBTI and pride networks that are working to ensure the safety and acceptance of LGBTI colleagues within central government.

Heroes

‘Heroes was the theme of this year’s boat parade along Amsterdam’s canals,’ explained the Dutch Government Pride board. ‘Our boat proudly displayed the name ”Heroes of the Dutch Government Pride”. It’s all about honouring the public servants who work visibly and behind the scenes to promote the safety and acceptance of the LGBTI community in government bodies, throughout the Netherlands, and around the world.’

 ‘Today we’re celebrating love, in complete freedom,’ said Yoka Brandt. ‘That’s something that still can’t be taken for granted, even here in the Netherlands. So a celebration like today’s is a wonderful way to continue raising awareness.’

Global efforts for LGBTI rights

LGBTI acceptance is still a long way off in many places. ‘In the Netherlands we’re working to ensure the safety and acceptance of LGBTI colleagues in the workplace,’ said a staff member from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on board the boat last Saturday. ‘This is vital if we want to achieve our goal of being a diverse organisation, but unfortunately it’s still an exception among government organisations around the world. I’m incredibly proud that here in the Netherlands we have the freedom to be who we are and that central government promotes and celebrates diversity in the workplace. This is still not common in the wider world.’

‘That’s why it’s important that we’re taking part in the parade today. And that we continue to champion the cause worldwide,’ said Ms Brandt. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague supports these efforts, for example through its Human Rights Ambassador and programmes like Shelter City. Colleagues at Dutch embassies and other missions around the world raise awareness of LGBTI rights in many different ways, such as organising LGBTI film festivals, their own Pride weeks, parades and bike rides. They have joined local Pride celebrations as well with the slogan ‘Orange is always part of the rainbow’. Staff also engage in dialogue in their host countries to promote wider acceptance.