European Cities start Rainbow Cities network

24 May 2013

Rainbow Cities is a network of international cities concerned with LGBT policies. The network is based on a Dutch cities network with an LGBT policy, in which 41 Dutch cities now participate. The Rainbow Cities aim to exchange their experiences with LGBT policies and share their do’s and don’t’s, so that they can learn from each other and don’t have to start from scratch. Cities from all over Europe with an active local LGBT policy can join in the exchange of expertise and experience.

The international cities cooperating in the Rainbow Cities network are: Berlin (Germany), Bergen (Norway), Brussels (Belgium), Dumphries and Galloway (Scotland), Geneva (Switzerland), Gent (Belgium), Hamburg (Germany), Cologne (Germany), Madrid (Spain), Munich (Germany), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Turin (Italy), Vienna (Austria), and Zurich (Switzerland). The Dutch cities participating in the Rainbow Cities network are Amsterdam, The Hague, Nijmegen, Rotterdam and Utrecht.

Results LGBT study

In May 2013 the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) presented the results of a study in which 92.000 LGBT citizens from all over Europe participated. The figures paint a bleak picture. Two third of European respondents hid the fact they’re LGBT while at school. Over 60% had been confronted with negative comments or harassments. 19% felt discriminated at work or when applying for a job. 26% of LGBT respondents had been attacked or threatened during the last five years. 66% of them – even 75% of gay and bisexual men – are afraid to walk in the street hand in hand with a same sex partner.

European cities can learn from each other

Juul van Hoof, the coordinator of the Rainbow Cities network, is adamant that these figures must go down. ‘A number of European cities already use interesting methods and approaches to fight discrimination in school, at work and in the streets. In the Netherlands we can learn from the role that local governments play in this field.’ On the other hand Dutch cities often have long experience with LGBT emancipation. ’There is a lot to be shared between the network cities. Cities like Gent, Madrid, Turin and Berlin come across the same issues as Dutch cities do, even if the scale is different. They also have gay elderly people and young LGBT people go to school. Just like in the Netherlands these cities choose to pay specific attention to these groups in their local policies.’ Members of the network made a so-called one pager, in which the progress of their local LGBT policies and initiatives is summarised. Download the Rainbow Cities Network one pagers on LGBT policies.

Dutch network exchanges local LGBT policy

MOVISIE has been commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science to set up this network, to encourage exchange between Dutch cities with an LGBT policy and their international counterparts. The Dutch project started in 2008 with 18 participating cities and now has, in total, 41 Dutch cities which are supported by MOVISIE to develop local policies to improve the safety of LGBT citizens and contribute to social acceptation of sexual diversity. Download the Dutch one pagers on LGBT policies.

Juul van Hoof, Senior Consultant, Emancipation and Inclusion, at MOVISIE (