Pride partygoer accuses Amsterdam restaurant of gay bashing incident

Gay club Church in Amsterdam
Club Church and neighboring restaurant De Sneeker Pan on Kerkstraat in Amsterdam. July 2, 2016photo: castenoid / DepositPhotos

With reporting by Zack Newmark

A group of men say they were assaulted and harassed during Pride celebrations in Amsterdam over a week ago while waiting to enter Club Church for the Gay Pride (Z)onderbroek party. 

One of the men "Loki", a 37-year-old international civil rights attorney, accused the owner of the next door restaurant De Sneeker Pan, of “harassing and yelling” at him and a few other patrons to get off the sidewalk as they waited for Club Church to open its doors. 

In addition to the restaurant owner verbally assaulting them, Loki also claims the restaurateur encouraged a “very large man” to physically assault the men standing in line in front of the restaurant.

Out of concern for his personal safety, he requested that his real name not be used.

Loki told NL Times, “This big guy began pushing and shoving everyone who was on the sidewalk [into the street.] “He was trying to do as much harm as possible.” Loki described the man as being over 190-centimeters in height, and weighing over 115 kilograms, while he himself is 25 centimeters shorter, and weighs just over 60 kilograms.

According to Loki, the restaurant was closed for a private party and the owner took that opportunity, along with his own guests, to insult the men waiting to enter the club. The restaurant did not respond to a request for an interview.

"This was a bully group waiting until they knew we were going to queue up so they could harass gay people,” he said.  “People were literally in the street standing in line, and the party at the restaurant was sitting outside laughing at 100 or so gay men forced to stand in the street.”

“On Gay Pride of all days, we have to stand in the street like dogs because we’re not good enough to be on the sidewalk,” he said.

He accuses De Sneeker Pan’s owner of harassing Club Church’s patrons during Pride weekend for the past two years. Last year, Club Church’s bouncer was able to stop the harassment before it escalated, but this year the bouncer arrived an hour after the incident occurred. 

The alleged attack began on August 3 at around 9:20 p.m. when a woman used her motorcycle trying to force people off the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. She ran over Loki’s foot in the process, he says. The large man then proceeded with his attacks. Loki did not go to the hospital but said he spoke with the police on Sunday, the day after the incident, and the police said they would have responded had they known about it. 

Loki also reached out to Club Church with his complaint. In an email response, the manager of the club stated, “We are also very upset by the situation with the neighbour who indeed creates a dangerous situation every year during Pride.”

“We called the police on Saturday night twice but they did not intervene. We are going to take this up further with the police as well as the neighbour,” the email continued.

Club Church also affirmed to NL Times that the trouble on the street took place before the club opened, and that their security guard had not yet started work. The club did not want to respond further until its owner discusses the situation more formally with the police.

The police told NL Times that a report of the incident had not yet been filed. 

Loki believes the restaurant owner intentionally brought the large man and the woman to harass Club Church’s patrons. He is concerned that the owner would succeed in seriously harming one of them if nothing is done soon. 

 “None of us believed the police would come and help us. They make a big show of bringing out their gay and lesbian officers to say, ‘Hey look at how inclusive we are,’ but they aren’t there when we need them.”

He added, “if you’re not going to be there when I need your help, I don’t want you at Pride.”