Amsterdam takes lead in teaching gay rights to potential refugees

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Amsterdam is taking the lead in teaching asylum seekers about gay and women's rights. The municipality does not want to wait any longer and called in professional parties to help with this education. "We expect to start in two weeks", Simone Kukenheim, alderman for Education and Diversity, said to Het Parool.

The asylum seekers will be presented with a wide program, specifically addressing the rights of women and LGBT-people. Among other things, they will be taught that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are accepted in the Netherlands and that sexual comments towards women are not tolerated.

In the Netherlands asylum seekers only get informed about the country's norms and values once they are in the asylum procedure. Amsterdam only offers emergency shelter, where asylum seekers wait to start the procedure. Because this wait is taking longer than expected and the flow to asylum centers is stagnating, the municipality decided they will no longer wait for the asylum procedure to start teaching asylum seekers about Dutch norms.

According to the newspaper, the municipality first asked the central agency for the reception of asylum seekers COA to arrange these courses, but got no answer. Which is why Amsterdam decided to take matters into its own hands.

With this Amsterdam is a step ahead of the national government. Minister Jet Bussemaker of Education announced on Monday that she plans to start teaching asylum seekers about gay rights in the asylum centers. She is holding a conference with involved parties in the coming weeks to make arrangements.

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