King Willem Alexander officially visited the COC’s 70th anniversary on November 22nd. Just after the war in 1946 a group of gay men founded the COC, the Dutch gay/lesbian advocacy group; it is the oldest still functioning LGBTI organisation in the world. In 70 years a lot has changed: in 1946 the founders and members had to use pen-names; in 1971 homosexuality was decriminalised, and in 2001 The Netherlands got a legal same-sex marriage.
As these visits go, there was a word of welcome and then several round table talks with young LGBTI’s, bicultural LGBTI’s, senior LGBTI citizens and LGBTI asylum seekers. The overall impression was that the King was interested and knew what he was talking about.
As one of the participants remarked: who can object to LGBTI’s if even the king is in favour of ‘being yourself’. And this probably is the strength of a royal visit: it shows approval from the highest level.
70 years ago gay/lesbian civil servants could get fired in the Queen’s name. Now the King, as first reigning monarch in the world, visited officially the movement that fought against such discrimination. The times, they are a-changin.