COC & Culture, Faith

Fortunately, many lhbti+ persons can be themselves, regardless of their religion, cultural background or skin color. Yet rejection is also common. For example, people may experience lack of acceptance in their family or circle of friends. There is also rejection, discrimination and racism in Dutch society and the lhbti+ community. People regularly experience a combination of forms of discrimination, for example, because they are trans and black, lesbian and asylum seeker or gay and Muslim. We call that intersectionality. Often we think we have come a long way in the acceptance and emancipation of lhbti+ persons, but for religious lhbti+ persons, lhbti+ persons of color and/or with diverse cultural backgrounds, it often feels very different. 

What can I do?
Nancy Siblini of COC's Respect2Love Empowerment Program.

Here's how COC is making a difference

In our Respect2Love program, we build strong communities with lhbti+ individuals from diverse backgrounds where people find the strength to be themselves - regardless of culture, creed, skin color or any background. In these communities, role models often emerge who can inspire others to be themselves. Together we make being lhbti+ discussable in our own communities. And together we are stronger against discrimination and racism in the rest of the Netherlands. The COC also works closely with organizations of Christian and Muslim lhbti+ persons, such as Maruf and LKP.

Here's why attention is so important

Lhbti+ persons from religious and cultural communities sometimes face more rejection in their own environment than others. This applies to lhbti+ persons from, for example, Reformed, Muslim, Turkish-Dutch or Moroccan-Dutch backgrounds. In addition, lhbti+ persons who are Muslim, dark-skinned or from a non-Dutch background also face discrimination because of their skin color, religion or background. All this can sometimes be a heavy burden to bear alone.

Time for change, then.

participants listen at COC conference on empowerment for bicultural lhbti+ persons
COC members of respect2love empowerment behind lbhti+ flag.
COC has already accomplished this

With COC's Respect2Love Fund, we support numerous initiatives every year, all conceived for and by lhbti+ persons of diverse cultural backgrounds, beliefs and skin colors. Through these initiatives, people experience that they are not alone, and feel empowered by the community. The role models from the Respect2Love Empowerment Program spark conversation about sexual orientation, gender identity, gender identity, skin color, religion, culture and racism. In society and in their own communities. These trailblazers are often a huge support to other lhbti+ individuals from similar backgrounds. We partner with organizations such as Maruf for queer Muslims, LKP for Christian lhbti+ persons and with the Trans Health Clinic. This is how we work together to create a world where everyone can be themselves.

But we're not there yet!

'What saved me in the Netherlands is the lhbti+ community. I am now ready to contribute myself.'


Nancy Siblini of COC's Respect2Love Empowerment Program.

Nancy Siblini of COC's Respect2Love Empowerment Program.

What can I do?

Join Respect2love

Respect2Love is our community for and by lhbti+ persons from different cultural or religious backgrounds. Together we share information, advice and organize meetings. In our Respect2Love Empowerment program, lhbti+ persons from diverse backgrounds develop into leaders in their own communities and society.


Start your own initiative

Start your own initiative for lhbti+ persons of diverse cultural, religious or other backgrounds. We support several such initiatives with our Respect2Love Fund.

Join Maruf

This is the platform for queer Muslims. They are here for support and stand for an open society, free from all forms of exclusion.

Go to Maruf

Join LKP

LKP is a platform for Christian lhbti+ persons and organizations. They support and facilitate the Christian lhbti+ movement, and help give Christian lhbti+ persons a voice and face in both the church and society.

Go to LKP

Important news and publications

Frequently Asked Questions

I need personal advice or help.

We refer for help to COC's Switchboard, our help and information service for the lhbti+ community. To do so, visit for chat or phone opening hours or email to [email protected]

Is your question not listed?

We are happy to help you! Contact us here.

I don't know any other lhbti+ persons with the same cultural and/or religious background as me, can you put me in touch with them?

Due to privacy reasons, we cannot put you in direct contact with other lhbti+ persons of the same cultural and/or religious background. However, we can recommend a number of working-meeting groups! They regularly organize activities where you can get in touch with lhbti+ persons who have similar experiences. You can contact the following projects or organizations for this purpose:

  • Caribbean Queer Salon
  • Cocktail
  • Colored Qollective
  • LGBT Asylum Support
  • Man.ish Cave
  • Maruf Foundation
  • Papaya Kuir
  • Sehaq
  • Mikal Haman Foundation (formerly Survibes)
  • The Hang-Out 070
  • World Cafe

For outside the Amsterdam and Randstad region, we recommend contacting your local COC associations. 

I want to start an initiative for our target group, can COC advise or help me?

We are happy to refer you, for example, to the organizations under the frequently asked question "I don't know any other lhbti+ persons with the same cultural and/or religious background as me, can you put me in touch with them?", or a local COC. These organizations can think along with you in a more focused way and support you.

I am not accepted by my (religious) family members. What can I do?

For questions related to religion, please refer to the following organizations:

Where do you organize events and meetings?

Keep an eye on our Instagram and website for any updates.

What exactly is the Respect2Love Empowerment program?

The Respect2Love Empowerment Program is an initiative of COC Netherlands and an important activity of the organization. Finding, coaching and supporting bicultural frontliners is essential to empower and mobilize individuals from the bicultural lhbtqi+ (queer bipoc*) community. With the empowerment program, we hope to make more role models more positively visible and strengthen their influence on the Dutch lhbtqi+ movement.

Are there people I can talk to about my situation or to whom COC can refer me?

Yes! To do so, contact Switchboard at The right place if you are looking for a listening ear. We can also help with referrals to any of the above organizations.

Photo credits © Header & quote: Isabell Janssen, first text box: Osman Sarikaya, second text box: Respect2love