Early December, an article appeared in the AD newspaper. We felt that we had to respond:
Dear AD, COC and Out TV.
To be honest, we had decided not to talk about the upcoming Eurovision Songfestival anymore. Not because we don't feel a certain way, quite the contrary: To invest 13 million euros in an international party, even though Rotterdam suffers from high rates of poverty and homelessness, is frankly unacceptable.
That the council has offered a select few 'poor' citizens to receive entry tickets, doesn't make it any less unacceptable to spend millions on a party, taking place in a neighborhood that has been neglected for years.
But, what we really want to talk about, is the piece written in the AD newspaper on the 10th of December, stating the following:
'The spectacle that will take place in Ahoy in May, attracts a big group of people from the lgbtqi+ scene. "We want to prevent any incidents from happening. This is the moment to show ourselves to be a diverse and inclusive city"
So far, so good. Because we too believe in radical equality and never hide away from that.
However, the piece continues:
'Ian van der Putten from Out TV Europe, a channel for the lgbtqi+ community, hopes the council will take the multicultural state of the neighborhood into account. "You can't just send thousands of gays into that neighborhood without thinking about this before. During the Pride in Antwerp, for example, they informed people with letters so that they know what to expect. You only need one incident to ruin it all and we want to prevent that."
Excuse us? Firstly, we think the people living in Zuid know very well the Songfestival will take place here. And if they don't, they will when it happens. Connecting the possibility for incidents with the neighborhood being multicultural is a horrible and unacceptable form of framing.
Of course, we think it's important everyone feels safe in this city and we absolutely recognize the lgbtqi+ community as one that, unfortunately, is in need of protection. However, let's look at the facts here and use those as a way of determining what is necessary to do so.
Studies show that violence against the lgbtqi+ community is mostly committed by men. 92,7%. More specifically, young(er) men, traveling in groups and often combined with alcohol.
If we're going to strive for extra security, there is your group to focus on. Young men, going out in groups.
With framing such as this, stereotypes are not just created, but normalized. It takes away the attention from actual possible threats. Leading up to the festival, we really expect more from the media and organizations such as these as we'll need to work together to create a safe and open environment.
This unjust focus on the neighborhood and it's diverse citizens as a possible cause of incidents is not justifiable and demonizing. Especially journalists, who carry the responsibility to go against these frames, need to use facts instead of feelings more often.