Thousands march in Pride Walk in Amsterdam

The Pride walk in Amsterdam, the official kickoff of Pride Amsterdam, 27 July 2019
The Pride walk in Amsterdam, the official kickoff of Pride Amsterdam, 27 July 2019. (Photo: Gemeente Amsterdam/Twitter)

Around 15 thousand people participated in the Pride Walk in Amsterdam on Saturday, according to the organizers of Pride Amsterdam. The march through the Dutch capital, which is dedicated to drawing attention to the situation of LGBTQ people in countries where being gay is punishable, is the traditional start of the annual event, NU.nl reports.

This year's Pride Walk was dedicated to Jelena Grigorjeva, a Russian LGBTQ activist who was murdered near her home in Saint Petersburg last week. 

The march started at the Homomonument at the Westertoren, where Amsterdam mayor Femke Halsema and others spoke. During her speech, the mayor awarded an honorary medal of the city of Amsterdam to Hans Verhoeven. He has been active in the LGBTQ community since the 1980s and took the initiative to organize the first Europride in Amsterdam in 1994. The medal, officially called the Frans Banninck Cocq medal, came as a complete surprise to him, according to NH Nieuws.

Halsema's speech started out as expected, before suddenly turning to Verhoeven, according to the regional broadcaster. "Today Amsterdam Pride is added to the list of intangible heritage. That way we immortalize our Pride. And that is not only an honor, but also an order. It is an order to defend freedom. And one of those defenders is Hans Verhoeven", she said. "Hans is not wasting time on the sidelines, but is rolling up his sleeves. Something is keeping him awake and then he comes into action."

Verhoeven was surprised and emotional. "Thinking of who we are marching for, I dedicate this to Jelena", he said. 

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