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Amsterdam: One of Europe’s most popular gay destinations

Besides being known as one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Amsterdam has become one of Europe’s most popular destinations for gay and lesbian visitors. The city’s relaxed and tolerant attitude to different lifestyles is a major draw, as is the international atmosphere where English is widely spoken.

Amsterdam has dozens of gay bars, dance clubs, saunas, bookshops, restaurants and hotels. The majority of the city’s gay and lesbian hotspots are concentrated near the Reguliersdwarsstraat, Kerkstraat, Rembrandtplein/Amstel and Zeedijk/Warmoesstraat.   

A city of firsts for gay rights  It's hard to imagine a more gay and lesbian-friendly destination than Amsterdam. A safe haven for those persecuted for their views or lifestyles for centuries, it’s no surprise that Amsterdam emerged as a frontrunner in gay rights as far back as the 19th century. The result is a city that still leads the world in openness and freedom. 
 
Amsterdam could be considered the birthplace of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights. Homosexuality was decriminalized here in 1811, and the first gay bar followed in 1927. One of the world's first organisations for gay rights, the COC, was founded in Amsterdam in 1946. As a tribute to the many gays and lesbians who lost their lives in World War II, the city unveiled the first-ever Homomonument (gay monument) in 1987.   

In 1998, Amsterdam became the first city outside North America to host the international Gay Games. The Netherlands was also the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage. On 1 April 2001, mayor Job Cohen officiated Amsterdam’s first legal gay and lesbian weddings.   

Amsterdam Gay Pride and the Canal Parade  Started in 1996, the Canal Parade is the highlight of Amsterdam Gay Pride. Held on the first Saturday in August, the extravagant parade features colourfully decorated boats filled with dancing participants floating down the city’s famous canals. Drawing 500,000+ spectators – many from abroad – this exuberant celebration has become one Europe’s most popular gay events.   
 
The Canal Parade reflects the city’s cultural mix and “live and let live” attitude. The parade route is lined with a fascinating mix of spectators: gays and lesbians, parents with young children, waving grandparents and transfixed tourists. Clubs, bars, corporations, NGOs, political parties and other organisations compete to present the most spectacular boat. Popular locations to watch the Canal Parade include the Prinsengracht and along the Amstel, especially near City Hall and the National Opera & Ballet building.   

Organised by the Amsterdam Gay Pride Foundation, Amsterdam Gay Pride takes place annually in the first week of August. Besides the Canal Parade, the programme includes parties, debates, lectures, sports, exhibitions and other cultural activities. Street parties take place near the Reguliersdwarsstraat, Rembrandtplein, Halvemaansteeg, Zeedijk and Warmoesstraat. The festive week closes on Sunday afternoon with the big closing party on Rembrandtplein. Visit www.amsterdamgaypride.org for more information.   

Tradition of tolerance
 Amsterdam has a reputation for being open-minded and tolerant. To some this may seem a recent development, but in fact this tradition of tolerance stretches back to the 17th century. During the Golden Age, Amsterdam was a centre for freedom of press, religion and new ideas. The city became a refuge for Protestant and Jewish merchants and as well as philosophers who were persecuted in their own countries.   
Tolerance in Amsterdam continues to be based on respecting and accepting people’s differences, including race, religion, sexual orientation and political convictions.   

Homomonument (Gay monument) 
Constructed in 1987, the world’s first gay monument commemorates everyone who has suffered persecution because of their sexual orientation, especially those who lost their lives in WWII. It aims to inspire the entire LGBT community in their struggle against denial, oppression and discrimination.   
Designed by Karin Daan, the Homomonument lies beside the Westerkerk, taking the shape of a triangle on the edge of the canal. Its three points are symbolic: one corner points towards the National War Memorial on Dam Square; another points across the canal to the site of the Anne Frank House; while the third corner points towards COC Amsterdam. It remains the largest monument in the world dedicated to homosexuality.  

Pink Point 
Located next to the Homomonument, the Pink Point is an information kiosk created especially for gay and lesbian visitors. It is open seven days a week from 10:00 to 18:00. The kiosk is a great starting point for information about Amsterdam’s LGBT scene, including nightlife, local activities and organisations. They also offer a variety of original souvenirs.   

Pink in Blue Police Network
The Pink in Blue (Roze in Blauw) network is a task force of police officers - most of whom are gay, lesbian or transgender themselves - dedicated to protecting the Amsterdam LGBT community. The group started unofficially in 1998 during the Amsterdam Gay Games. The network’s members help both Amsterdammers and visitors by reporting discrimination, insults, assault or theft related to sexual orientation.  

EuroPride 2016
Amsterdam has been selected to host EuroPride 2016. This is an international LGBT event hosted by a different European city each year. This 16 days event takes place from July 23rd - August 7th 2016 and offers a broad program of art & culture, sport and debates. The last days will coincide with Amsterdam Gay Pride, with the world famous Canal Pride on August 6th. The event will end with a concert to celebrate the Freedom in Amsterdam.  
Transmission October 17th 2015 – March 13th 2016 The photo exhibition Transmission will tell you the stories of and about the transgender. The beautiful portraits of Miep, made by the photographers Koos Breukel and Milette Raats, provide an opportunity for Amsterdam Museum to offer a platform to tell personal experiences in the transgender world. Based on objects, like a fur coat, a pride flag and a petticoat, the transgender will tell their personal stories about gender, recognition and pride.
More information you will find on: www.amsterdammuseum.nl/transmission    
More information about gay Amsterdam:  www.iamsterdam.com/gay

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