This week debate about the situation of LGBT people in Russia has taken a royal turn in the Netherlands. Last week the government announced that the Dutch will not only send their best sportsmen and -women to the Sochi Winter Olympics, but also a major government delegation. Not only the Dutch King and Queen will visit the Winter Olympics, the prime minister and minister of Sports will join them as well. This in contrast to many other western countries, who choose to limit the the level of their delegations to low level ministers or even a delegation of prominent LGBT sportsmen and -women. This decision hast started a huge public debate.
After the initial shock about the governments decision, the debate in the Netherlands heated up this week. The national LGBT organisation (COC) stated that the Dutch delegation would be in effect an approval of the stringent anti-LGBT policies of the Putin presidency. In response the government stated, that by sending a high level delegation, it would be possible to open the discussion with the Russian government over LGBT rights. This was widely ridiculed and taken into doubt by the Dutch commentators and opposition parties. While the King’s visits to sports events have up till now been regarded as good public relation trips, in this case King Willem Alexander and Queen Maxima have become the centre of a very public debate.
Since Wednesday a online petition on Change.org has drawn a lot of attention, quickly jumping over the 25.000 signatures and still counting. Goal of this online petition is to put pressure the Dutch government to down grade the delegation and send LGBT figure heads, like the US government is doing. This could mean that the Dutch King might be forced by a strong lobby of Queens and Dykes (and their supporters) to be a stay at home dad during the 2014 Winter Olympics.