Dutch cities compete for gay business as Amsterdam loses its mojo

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The city of Amsterdam has failed to win in any category in a large-scale survey of the favourite venues of Dutch gays.

GaySite.nl polled 27,500 of its readers over 2008.

Gay venues in Amsterdam, historically viewed as one of the best gay destinations in the world, failed to come first in any category.

Even the city’s famous Pride event, featuring canal barges instead of floats, lost out in the Gay Party category to a club night in Utrecht.

Venues in Almere, Arnhem and Apeldoorn won best dance cafe, best sauna and best disco.

Last month councillors in Groningen decided to market the town as gay-friendly, a sign that there may be competition to become the next favourite Dutch city for gay locals and tourists.

A spate of well-publicised homophobic attacks in Amsterdam has dented its reputation in recent years.

In August the Dutch Minister for Education and Culture, Ronald Plasterk, attended Amsterdam Pride for the first time.

He said that his presence would focus attention on homophobia in Holland.

“Anti-gay violence, though it never disappeared, is flaring,” he said.

“In some urban neighbourhoods it’s to do with youths from an Islamic background who are encouraged by the notion that homosexuality is morally repugnant.

“This is extremely worrying. When I talk about this at schools, it is shocking to hear how some young people think and talk about this.

“So a lot remains to be done. And not only at urban schools: ‘queer-bashing’ is something all kinds of youths do after drinking all around the country.”

Police figures covering the first six months of 2008 reveal that 16% of the 150 reports of verbal or physical violence against gay men and women were carried out by non-whites.

28% of the attacks were violent, the others took the form of intimidation, verbal abuse or vandalism. Police said the vast majority of victims and attackers were men.