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Letter from Brussels: As Was Said...

by De Ket in Columns & Opinions , 22 juli 2017

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar

Dear Neighbors to the North, In the summer recess, we will look back on the first six months of 2017, with statements in the media by well-known and lesser-known Belgians about homosexuality, gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people, as recorded in the Flemish media.

Martijn Van Cauwenberg “A homosexual was a curiosity in our organization.” (Martijn Van Cauwenberg on, about his coming out as a scouts leader.)

“Being gay goes with a kind of loneliness straight people will never understand.” (Columnist Fernand Van Damme, on the miniseries “When We Rise,” on

“When I told them I was just doing my job, one of them said: ‘Do it somewhere else, faggot. We do not want your kind here.’” (Statement by twenty-three-year-old Stef in magazine “Flair” about bullying of gay men in the work place.)

Gilles Van Bouwel“Recently someone sent me a private message: if you think you’re all that, you should be hanged you disgusting queen. When such a thing happens, you think: What the fuck?” (Statement by Gilles Van Bouwel, alias “De Mol,” in the radio program “Alloo Op Zondag.”)

“Discrimination based on sexual orientation is still too common in our countries, sometimes even in extreme form, as the worrying indications of violence and discrimination against homosexuals in Chechnya have reminded us of.” (Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, at a meeting of the Council of Europe in Cyprus, in “De Standaard.”)

Kobe Ilse“I’m not gay. Suppose I would really fancy guys, I would have come out a long time ago. Why hide it?” (VRT presenter Kobe Ilse feels obligated to make it abundantly clear, yet again, in “Dag Allemaal.”) “That is not allowed in our religion. No faith condones such behavior. It has nothing to do with religion. It is a health hazard, leads to disease, and stops the next generation.” (Statement by the sister of the twenty-three-year-old Abdullah Essah, who is on trial for the murder of his friend Erik Janssen, in “Het Laatste Nieuws.”)

“Gay men as a group are much more visible in the news compared to lesbians and transgenders.” (Researcher Cecil Meeusen, about her study of media coverage of GLBTs and homosexuality in general, in the seven o’clock news in Flanders, in “De Standaard.”)

“By comparing people with animals, you overlook the fact that human homosexuality has elements to it that are lacking in animals. For many homosexuals, their orientation is a fundamental part of their personality. You’re not either straight or gay. Scientists prefer a sexual continuum, with some people being in the middle of the scale rather than at one end.” (Philosopher Pieter Adriaens on his book “Born this way,” on

Tom Van Grieken“What good do gay rights do when you’re harassed on the streets? You shouldn’t be in favor of all gay rights as a matter of principle if we’re not even allowed to say that we have a problem.” (Vlaams Belang President Tom Van Grieken in answer to the question of a journalist why many gays are voting for far right parties, especially because of Islamization, in “De Morgen.”)

“They would rather kill themselves than accept me.” (Statement by twenty-one-year-old student Nadia Sha, lesbian and in Belgium for the past eighteen years. Her Afghan father and Russian mother do not accept her homosexuality.)

“I always thought I would have to quit playing football after coming out.” (Provincial soccer player Deni Sampermans on his coming out as a gay player in “Het Belang van Limburg.”)

“And do we not overestimate our own tolerance? I live in the countryside, and can assure you that my neighbors do not think that homosexuality or gender equality is self-evident.” (Prof. Corinne Torrekens, sociologist of Islam at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, in de Parliamentary committee of inquiry into the attacks of March 22nd, 2017.)

Yours sincerely,

De Ket



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