Rafael Lodos

Does Dutch Tolerance Form a Barrier to the True Acceptance of Minorities?

Gay men almost enjoy the same legal rights as heterosexuals and therefore are formally accepted. However, my personal experience has taught me that social acceptance of homosexuality is often dependent on numerous conditions.

Story by Hugo Oms. Edited by Mira Kinn
Netherlands, Western Europe
Published on March 27, 2020

Reading time: 4 minutes 30 seconds.

This story is also available in de it kr nl tr



Content Warning: This story contains mentions of homophobia that can be upsetting for some readers.

This week the Dutch national newspaper ‘NRC’ published an article about the racist comments Dutch citizens with Chinese roots have encountered since the outbreak of the corona virus.

Wendy Zeng – A Dutch medicine student with Chinese parents – explains how two boys were coughing while yelling ‘corona’ at her in the bus. The radio station ‘Radio 10’  has also produced a carnival song in which they sing ‘the smelly Chinese are to blame’ and an apartment in Wageningen has been smeared with poo with the text ‘Chinese people die’.

Wendy has been shocked by the racism she has experienced on a national scale since the outbreak of corona and concludes that the Dutch hide behind their notion of tolerance.  Wendy explains: “The Dutch apparently ‘tolerate’ anything that differs from the norm. Apparently the Chinese people deviate from this norm. That is a problem in itself. Tolerance forms a barrier to acceptance.”

This statement made me wonder: do the Dutch really hide behind their notion of tolerance and does this form a barrier to the true acceptance of minorities?


My homosexuality seems to be tolerated, but it’s definitely not always accepted. 

As a Dutch, gay man I certainly concur with Wendy’s statement. Gay men almost enjoy the same legal rights as heterosexuals and therefore are formally accepted. However, my personal experience has taught me that social acceptance of homosexuality is often dependent on numerous conditions.

Throughout my life I’ve been told countless of times what a great guy I am ‘for a gay guy’ because I’m not so ‘extravagant’ or ‘feminine’. I have also been called names on the street numerous times and have been expelled from a nightclub in Rotterdam with my ex-boyfriend because they did not want ‘kissing gays’ inside their club. We were told that if we wanted to be affectionate we should go to a gay bar instead.

The acceptance of the LGBTQIA+-community[1] therefore seems to be dependent on certain behavioural (gender) norms: you are allowed to be gay, as long as you’re not too feminine or extravagant or as long as you don’t show it too much publicly. In that sense, my homosexuality seems to be tolerated, but it’s definitely not always accepted. 


Due to our multicultural society and the legal protection of Dutch minorities it is often assumed that the emancipation of minorities is ‘complete’.

Does this mean that Dutch tolerance forms a barrier to the true acceptance of minorities in the Netherlands? I certainly think so. As Wendy already clarified, the word ‘tolerance’ implies that a group negatively deviates from a certain norm. The concept thus puts emphasis on these differences.

Don’t get me wrong: The Netherlands consists of a great diversity of people who all perceive the Netherlands as their home. However, I do wonder whether these different groups live with or next to one another.

Due to our multicultural society and the legal protection of Dutch minorities it is often assumed that the emancipation of minorities is ‘complete’. It may be that the legal equality of minorities and the tremendous diversity of people has made us lose sight of the necessity to bridge and embrace our social differences rather than to just ´tolerate´ them.


As long as people like Wendy continue to face discriminatory comments, the emancipation of Dutch minorities seems to be far from complete.

We should therefore shift our focus from tolerance towards acceptance. Because as long as people like Wendy continue to face discriminatory comments, the emancipation of Dutch minorities seems to be far from complete.  


Footnotes

[1] LGBTQIA+ is an abbreviation that stands for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, ally or a-sexual community, as well as for anyone else that is not included by these descriptions (+).


How does this story make you feel?

Follow us on Social Media

Talk about this Story

Please enable cookies to view the comments powered by Disqus.

Subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter

Stay up to date with new stories on Correspondents of the World by subscribing to our monthly newsletter:

* indicates required

Hugo Oms

Hugo Oms

I’m Hugo, a Dutch 25-year old student who is in the final phases of his study ‘International Development Studies’ in Wageningen. I’m about to start my internship at the green left political party in the Hague which I’m really excited about! In my spare time I like to do sports (crossfit and running), to meet and go out with friends, and I love to travel.

Topic: Gender

> Brazil
Challenging "Reality" Through the Means of Art

A story by Milton Camilo

In my art, I expose the underlying tensions between concepts, identity and experiences. I want to challenge the audience and confront them with their taught beliefs, which they themselves have not even reflected on yet. Just as my reality and image of women is a rather powerful strong one (empoderamente), rather than the helpless, “petite” images we are trained to perceive as feminine.

> Read More


> Germany
Growing up in a Straight World

A story by Luca Kraus

Retrospectively, it comes as no surprise. Everything around me gave me the impression that there was only one sexuality within society. From tv shows I watched to books I read, couples and families I knew, conversations with my friends, and things that we were taught in school.

> Read More


> Denmark
Applying the Lessons I Learnt in Anthropology to my Art

A story by Julie Celina Linnebjerg

I want to apply the lessons I learned in anthropology to my art, and give more attention to the underrepresented and marginalised.

> Read More


Get involved

At Correspondents of the World, we want to contribute to a better understanding of one another in a world that seems to get smaller by the day - but somehow neglects to bring people closer together as well. We think that one of the most frequent reasons for misunderstanding and unnecessarily heated debates is that we don't really understand how each of us is affected differently by global issues.

Our aim is to change that with every personal story we share.

Share Your Story

Community Worldwide

Correspondents of the World is not just this website, but also a great community of people from all over the world. While face-to-face meetings are difficult at the moment, our Facebook Community Group is THE place to be to meet other people invested in Correspondents of the World. We are currently running a series of online-tea talks to get to know each other better.

Join Our Community

EXPLORE TOPIC Gender

> Belize
Gender-neutral Toilets – A Safe Space Taken Away?

A story by Robin Schaffer

In the moment you face discrimination, harassment, and assault based on your breasts and the vulnerability of your vagina, it's your body they are after.

> Read More

> Nepal
Gender-Based Untouchability

A story by Pabita Timilshina

If I had one wish, it would be for girls to be free, free to choose what they want to become, not to be dominated by men. Women to have their own voice without being ashamed of what society might think. Our place is not just in the kitchen or to have babies, we have our own lives. I wished for everyone to have the same rights.

> Read More

Or read it in br de it tr

> Australia
Bisexual Men: Do We Even Exist?

A story by Hal Fulcher

With so much recent acceptance of the idea of sexuality being a spectrum, the fact bisexual men even feel the need to defend our very existence seems very quaint in 2020.

> Read More

Or read it in br de it kr nl

> Morocco
The Girl in the Skirt

A story by Hajar Lassiliya

You may wonder what is it like to be a woman who lives in a country that lacks security?

> Read More

Or read it in de it kr tr

> Germany
Growing up in a Straight World

A story by Luca Kraus

Retrospectively, it comes as no surprise. Everything around me gave me the impression that there was only one sexuality within society. From tv shows I watched to books I read, couples and families I knew, conversations with my friends, and things that we were taught in school.

> Read More

Or read it in de ru tr

> Brazil
Challenging "Reality" Through the Means of Art

A story by Milton Camilo

In my art, I expose the underlying tensions between concepts, identity and experiences. I want to challenge the audience and confront them with their taught beliefs, which they themselves have not even reflected on yet. Just as my reality and image of women is a rather powerful strong one (empoderamente), rather than the helpless, “petite” images we are trained to perceive as feminine.

> Read More

Or read it in br fr

Global Issues Through Local Eyes

We are Correspondents of the World, an online platform where people from all over the world share their personal stories in relation to global development. We try to collect stories from people of all ages and genders, people with different social and religious backgrounds and people with all kinds of political opinions in order to get a fuller picture of what is going on behind the big news.

Our Correspondents

At Correspondents of the World we invite everyone to share their own story. This means we don't have professional writers or skilled interviewers. We believe that this approach offers a whole new perspective on topics we normally only read about in the news - if at all. And in case you wondered: Everyone includes you as well. Do you have a story to share? Reach out to us and let us know!

Share Your Story

Our Community

Although we just started a few months ago, we already have a great community of people from all over the world. While face-to-face meetings are difficult at the moment, our Facebook Community Group is THE place to be to meet other people invested in Correspondents of the World. We are currently running a series of online-tea talks to get to know each other better.

Join Our Community

Vision

At Correspondents of the World, we want to contribute to a better understanding of one another in a world that seems to get smaller by the day - but somehow neglects to bring people closer together as well. We think that one of the most frequent reasons for misunderstanding and unnecessarily heated debates is that we don't really understand how each of us is affected differently by global issues.

Our aim is to change that with every personal story we share.

Topics

We believe in quality over quantity. To start off with, we collect personal stories that relate to our correspondents' experiences with five global topics:

Environment

Discussions about the environment often center on grim, impersonal figures. Among the numbers and warnings, it is easy to forget that all of these statistics actually also affect us - in very different ways. We believe that in order to understand the immensity of environmental topics and global climate change, we need the personal stories of our correspondents.

Gender

Gender is the assumption of a "normal". Unmet expectations of what is normal are a world-wide cause for violence. We hope that the stories of our correspondents will help us to better understand the effects of global developments related to gender and sexuality, and to reveal outdated concepts that have been reinforced for centuries.

Migration

Our correspondents write about migration because it is a deeply personal topic that is often dehumanized. People quickly become foreigners, refugees - a "they". But: we have always been migrating, and we always will. For millions of different reasons. By sharing personal stories about migration, we hope to re-humanize this global topic.

Liberation

We want to support the demand for justice by spotlighting the personal stories of people who seek liberation in all its different forms. Our correspondents share their individual experiences in creating equality. We hope that for some this will be an encouragement to continue their own struggle against inequality and oppression - and for some an encouragement to get involved.

Corona Virus

2020 is a year different from others before - not least because of the Corona pandemic. The worldwide spread of a highly contagious virus is something that affects all of us in very different ways. To get a better picture of how the pandemic's plethora of explicit and implicit consequences influences our everyday life, we share lockdown stories from correspondents all over the world.

Get Involved

We believe that every single personal story contributes to a better understanding of the complex world we live in - and the people we share it with. That includes yours! We would be really happy if you would like to share your story, too, and join our community.

Share Your Story

Growing Fast

Although we started just over a year ago, Correspondents of the World has a quickly growing community of correspondents - and a dedicated team of editors, translators and country managers.

52

Correspondents

63

Stories

38

Countries

127

Translations

Contact

Correspondents of the World is as much a community as an online platform. Please feel free to contact us for whatever reason!

Message Us

Message on WhatsApp

Call Us

Joost: +31 6 30273938