Amsterdam’s rainbow flags flying at half mast to mark visit by Russia’s Vladimir Putin

Russia putin getty

Rainbow flags across Amsterdam are being flown at half mast today to mark the arrival of the Russian President Vladimir Putin, in protest against the proposed bill that would make promotion of homosexuality among youths punishable in Russia.

Mr Putin is visiting the Dutch capital to showcase the economic ties between the two countries, worth $83 billion in bilateral trade last year. The Netherlands is Russia’s second largest trade partner after China. The Russian president arrives in the city shortly following a visit to Germany.

The Russian State Duma voted 388-1 to support the bill on 25 January. It will return for a second reading later this year.

The progress of the bill has been marked by frequent clashes between the bills supporters and LGBT rights activists, who say if the bill passes people could potentially be fined for as little as kissing their same-sex partner in public, or giving pro-LGBT advice to young people.

Explaining the use of the rainbow flags, a spokesperson for the city council said last month that it “wishes to express its concern with the rainbow flag and the seven districts will ask to do the same. Amsterdam is committed to an open and tolerant city where everyone can be who he is. The flag stands for diversity and gay acceptance.”

Mr Putin is due to go to the Maritime Museum and The Hermitage Museum today, where he and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands will attend the official Netherlands-Russia 2013 Year of Friendship opening ceremony.

The Russian President will have dinner with several Dutch and Russian entrepreneurs to celebrate the event, which marks a year of cultural exchange between the two nations.

TV presenter Stephen Fry recently visited Russia to film a documentary on the problems LGBT people face.

And earlier this month, a poll found that almost a quarter of Russians want ‘compulsory treatment’ for gays and 5% think gay people should be ‘liquidated.’