On Wednesday the 5th of October Marja van Bijsterveldt, Minister of Education and coordinating minister of emancipation issues, has struck a deal with 22 municipalities on LGBT emancipation. They signed a so-called frontrunner contract with the ministry, in which they promised to present plans of action to improve their LGBT policy before the 1st of February 2012. The idea is to promote social acceptance, security and strength of LGBT individuals.
The minister offers 20.000 euro per municipality.
The new frontrunners are (amongst others) Delft, Eindhoven, Helmond, Leidschendam-Voorburg, Middelburg, Westland and Zoetermeer. ‘We focus on the issue of suicides amongst gay youth,’ says Anthonie van de Buuse of Middelburg.
‘The national statistics are alarming. There is a connection between suicides and suppression of homosexuality for religious reasons, so we can assume this is occurring in Zeeland.
We want to focus on education programs in schools and professionals in youth and health care need to be trained. They have to learn how to recognize signals and how to address the specific situations. We aim to work together closely with COC Zeeland.’
Minister Van Bijsterveldt aims to extend the number of frontrunner cities from the eighteen she inherited at the beginning of her term, to the fifty largest municipalities of the country. At the moment forty municipalities take part.
A cooperation was initiated with several European cities that have LGBT policies: so-called Rainbow Cities. The idea is to exchange experiences and ideas on policies and safeguarding progress. In 2013 an international meeting will be held for officials from several different European cities.