Thousands of people opposed anti-gay Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Amsterdam on Monday. Rainbow flags were placed on flag poles and lowered to half-mast, with many local and national government officials in support of LGBT rights.
“The ban on so-called homosexual propaganda is just one step in what gay rights activists have called a state-sponsored witch hunt,” said Euronews Correspondent James Franey in a press release. “It’s not gone down well with Amsterdam City Hall officials, who have taken an unusual step of protesting against a visiting head of state.”
Over 3,000 people chanted “Go Home Putin” as the Russian President had dinner with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. The two conversed over NGO and LGBT rights, which Rutte has expressed concerns over.
“We had a good talk about it to the good relations between our two countries,” said Rutte in a press release.
Amsterdam legalized same-sex marriages in 2001.
“We have a large gay community in Amsterdam,” an Amsterdam deputy major told Euronews. “We want to make sure that in our city that everybody can live the way they want and be whoever they are and we want to make sure that everybody in the world knows that, also our partners.”
Along with other human rights activists and international governments, Amsterdam’s officials disapprove of the Russian parliament’s ban on “homosexual propaganda.”
Last year, Moscow issued a ban on gay pride marches for the next 100 years.
Serving his third term as president, Putin will fine public acts of “homosexual propaganda” up to $16,000. Putin has publicly stated that gay couples can’t produce children and that Russia and Europe have “demographic problems.”
Members of topless feminist group Femen also protested Putin’s visit to Amsterdam, as well as Germany.
“We’re used to these actions and I don’t see anything terrible in them,” Putin responded in a press release to the protests. “If someone wants to have a discussion on some political issues then it’s better to do it while you are dressed, and not take your clothes off.”