The Amsterdam city government has invited four Moroccan LGBT activists to be their guests of honour at this year’s Amsterdam Gay Pride. The special guests will be welcomed on Thursday, 31 July by Deputy Mayor Van der Burg at a private meeting at the mayor’s official residence.

Representatives of organisations including Radio Netherlands Worldwide, LCC Plus, the Ministry of Education, Culture & Science, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Amnesty International will also be present. A week-long programme of workshops, training sessions and networking receptions is being organised for the guests, providing them with the opportunity to share their knowledge and expertise with other (international) activists.

Each edition of Gay Pride sees the City of Amsterdam organise a special programme for LGBT representatives hailing from a country where the situation in relation to LGBT rights demands additional attention. Istanbul/Latvia was chosen in 2009, in 2012 it was Russia and last year, Ukraine. The chosen country this year is Morocco.

Amsterdam Alderperson for Diversity, Simone Kukenheim: "Our city enjoys a long tradition of liberty in which tolerance comes as standard. In a large number of countries, lesbians, homosexuals, bisexuals and transgenders are seen as leading deviant lifestyles, which are consequently pronounced undesirable. Unfortunately, this can also be the case in Morocco. To a lot of us, Morocco seems far away, but the notable Moroccan community in Amsterdam means that we cannot ignore the plight facing a large number of LGBT Moroccans – in Africa, but also here in Amsterdam. And that’s exactly why I am extremely proud that our guests from Morocco have accepted our invitation to join us in Amsterdam for Gay Pride and I would like to express my admiration for these courageous activists. We’ll welcome them to our city with our deepest respect and provide them with every opportunity to participate in the festivities, through which we call attention to tolerance and demand a firm ‘no’ to discrimination – in whatever form it may take. The theme of this year’s Gay Pride is ‘Listen’. It’s vital that we remain devoted to listening to each other – only by doing so can we continue to build towards a world where love and tolerance occupy centre stage!”

Thursday, 31 July: Mayor Van der Laan raises the San Francisco rainbow flag in Amsterdam

As an internationally responsible capital city, Amsterdam is dedicated to defending human rights all over the world, as it is to championing equal rights and social acceptance of sexual diversity. In order to achieve these goals, the city works closely with other major cities such as San Francisco – the city with which Amsterdam recently signed a collaboration agreement. As a symbol of the alliance between Amsterdam and San Francisco, the latter presented Amsterdam with the rainbow flag that flew on the San Francisco City Hall. On Thursday, 31 July 2014, Mayor Van der Laan will raise this flag on his official residence on the Herengracht, to celebrate Amsterdam Gay Pride.

Saturday, 2 August: City of Amsterdam boat to join canal parade

The City of Amsterdam will participate in this year’s canal parade on a boat with the theme ‘Time to listen, Time to blossom’ – symbolic of the notion that we can live together more peacefully and work together more productively if we listen to each other. Mayor Van der Laan will be joined by five Alderpersons and approximately 60 City of Amsterdam employees to spread the message, which will be visually represented by three enormous flowering lotuses. The lotus flowers are a playful reference to the three crosses on Amsterdam’s coat of arms and symbolise peace and serenity, but also love, empathy and emotion. Heterosexual colleagues also play an important role in furthering acceptance and in light of this, five such colleagues who do just this have also been invited aboard.

The Amsterdam Gay Pride Foundation has announced that two boats from the Aids Fonds will lead the canal parade, in homage to the victims of the Malaysia Airline MH17 disaster. The Amsterdam city government has expressed its appreciation for the well-considered approach taken by the organisation to show sympathy and support for the victims of the tragedy and the bereaved.

Press Office, City of Amsterdam