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Amsterdam to wave gay rights flag for Vladimir Putin's visit

Amsterdam will hang out the rainbow flag in protest at the state of gay rights in Russia when President Vladimir Putin visits the Netherlands next month.

The rainbow flag has been a symbol of the gay rights movement since the 1970s.The city council will fly the flag, which was adopted by the gay rights movement in the 1970s, on April 8 and has called on the seven district councils to do the same.

“Amsterdam aspires to be an open and tolerant city where everybody can be who they are,” said a spokesman.

 

The protest is against a proposed law going through the Russian Parliament that would make it illegal to teach children about sexual diversity by banning “propaganda of homosexuality among minors”.

Amnesty International has attacked the bill as “an attack on the right to freedom of expression” and said activists for gay and lesbian rights have been harassed and assaulted.

A protest has been organised by the city’s action committee, Gay Message 4 Russia, outside the Scheepvaartmuseum, where Putin is due to have dinner on April 8.

Former city mayor Job Cohen has said he will hang a flag at half-mast during the Russian president’s visit at the Het Mandje café on Zeedijk.

Amsterdam also wants to invite a Russian campaigner to take part in the city’s annual Gay Pride parade in August.

Putin’s visit has also been overshadowed by the controversy surrounding the suicide of Russian opposition activist Aleksandr Dolmatov in custody in Rotterdam.

Dolmatov’s lawyer, Marq Wijngaarden, says he had come under pressure from secret service agents after fleeing his homeland in June. The Dutch government has promised a full investigation into the activist’s death.