Netherlands: Minister says imams should speak out against homophobia

Netherlands: Minister says imams should speak out against homophobia

Via spitsnieuws (Dutch):

Education Minister Van Bijsterveldt says all imams in the Netherlands should jointly speak against homophobic violence and support respecting gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders.

"I would really appreciate it if they do that, just like Christian churches did not so long ago," she said yesterday during a meeting of SMN (Alliance of Moroccan-Dutch) in Utrecht. The minister said it would be a strong signal that everyone can be part of the Muslim community, regardless of sexual orientation, origin or culture.

Yesterday Van Bijsterveldt received the results of a three-year project of dialog meetings, expert meeting and school meetings that SMN conducted among Moroccans on accepting gays in their community. "It must really come from inside one's own community, It can't come from outside. That's why I have such admiration for the courage of leaders and others who stand up in this community and support accepting gays," she said.

Some experts say that the curriculum in elementary school should include attention to homosexuality. But Van Bijsterveldt says that's up to the schools.

It was revealed yesterday that there's certainly progress in the possibility of discussing homosexuality among Moroccans. More young Moroccan gay are coming out of the closet. Although exclusion and even abuse after 'coming out' is still not uncommon. NIP, the Dutch Institute of Psychologists, is concerned about the welfare of these youth.

"There are about 10,000 Muslim gay youth ages 15-25 in our country and they really run a high risk of severe mental, emotional problems," says Michaël von Bönninghausen, NIP psychologist and head of the Crisis Intervention Network for School Psychologists. "It's difficult for a Dutch youth to accept his homosexuality. For a Muslim youth it's 10,000 times harder. Social workers, schools, sports clubs should see these youth and develop the expertise to guide them. These youth suffer more often from psychological problems like depression and drug abuse. They also often go into prostitution.