Discrimination hotline under fire for stance against LGBT people

The Dutch hotline for internet discrimination MiND is facing heat after one of its employees suggested that hate speech against LGBT people is allowed as long as it is in the name of faith. Titus Visser, director of NL Confidential to which MiND belongs, apologized for this "error in judgement", the Volkskrant reports.

The matter revovles around a complaint submitted to MiND on Wednesday about reactions to an article on Bladna.nl. The website announced the establishment of an association for lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people in Morocco. The article received positive and negative reactions. Some of the negative reactions included "In Islam they should be killed" and "decapitation, that's what they deserve".

But MiND saw no reason to take action. According to the hotline, the statements "must be seen in the context of the religion Islam, which legally seen in many cases takes the offending charachter away". The hotline also stated that in the Netherlands "a large degree of freedom of expression" exists in the context of relgion.

The complaint submitter decided to turn to the press, interpreting what the hotline said as "calls for violence are allowed as long as it is done by Muslims", according to the newspaper. This led to numerous outraged reactions from Dutch citizens as well as politicians. Parliamentarian party Bontes/Van Klaveren demanded clarification from Minister Lodewijk Asscher of Social Affairs and Minister Ard van der Steur of Security and Justice.

MiND officially apologized, also to the person who submitted the complaint in the first place. "He accepted it", Visser said, according to the Volkskrant. "It was also not his intention to shame us, he said." Visser added that one of the three people who work at MiND had a bad day. Together the three employees have to assess about 600 discrimination reports a year. Visser said that he's not making excuses, only pointing out that the law around "these kinds of statements" is complicated. "You're dealing with freedom of expression and belief, it is sometimes quite complex. But it has never gone this wrong with an assesment."

Van der Steur called the hotline's statements unacceptable, but does not think further steps need to be taken after the apology.