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Watch back COC's Rainbow Election Debate

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On Friday evening, Oct. 27, national political leaders engaged in a debate at COC's Rainbow Election Debate 2023. The politicians debated topical lhbti+ issues ahead of the November 22 House of Representatives elections.

A bleak wind is blowing toward the rainbow community. The tone on social media is getting harsher. More and more violence is reported, rainbow flags are snatched away, drag queens attacked and if you walk hand in hand, you have a chance of nasty reactions. The Netherlands today dangles in 14th place in Europe of countries where lhbti+ human rights are well regulated. And if you are Black and transgender, for example, or bi+ and refugee, you often get an even harder time.

What are the Hague politicians going to do about it? Are they going to provide schools where everyone can be themselves? Will they ban attempts to change people's sexual orientation or gender identity? What will they do for lhbti+asylum seekers?

These are the kinds of issues the leaders debated on Oct. 27. We asked them about issues such as the human rights of transgender people, multi-parenthood legislation and involuntary and unnecessary medical treatment of intersex children. And what can the Netherlands do to support the lhbti+ movement in countries where our human rights are trampled on?

Participating in the debate were Sophie Hermans (group chair, VVD), Jesse Klaver (group chair, GroenLinks|PvdA), Rob Jetten (list leader, D66), Eline Vedder (No. 2, CDA), Ines Kostić (No. 2, Party for the Animals) and Bastiaan Meijer (No. 10, SP). The major parties in Chamber and polls were invited. NSC, BBB and ChristenUnie indicated they would not participate, PVV did not respond. Volt and Bij1 provided written input.

Besides looking at the differences between the parties,we also look for similarities. To make progress together for the lhbti+ community, we want to conclude a Rainbow Accord again, as happened previously in the 2012, 2017 and 2021 elections. Those accords resulted, among other things, in enshrining our rights in the Constitution, a ban on discrimination against trans and intersex persons and attention to respect and acceptance in schools.

The debate from Pakhuis de Zwijger was introduced by chairman Astrid Oosenbrug of COC Netherlands and Debbie Helaha of COC Leiden. The presentation was in the hands of Floor Bremer, known as a political reporter for RTL News, among others.

The parties invited to this debate were all those that currently have more than 5 seats in the second chamber. And the parties that have more than 5 seats in the polls for the upcoming Lower House elections.
Of these, a number of parties have indicated that they will not attend, New Social Contract (NSC/Pieter Omtzigt), ChristenUnie and BoerBurgerBeweging (BBB). The Party for Freedom (PVV) did not respond 0to the invitation.


Photo: Geert van Tol for COC Netherlands