Ahmed Marcouch, 41, is on a self-appointed mission to end homophobia in Slotervaart, just a stones’ throw from the capital but light-years away from its anything-goes mentality.
To make his point, Mayor Marcouch recently invited Amsterdam’s annual Gay Pride parade to pass through his constituency when it takes place in August.
“It is necessary to confront this issue, to say that homosexuals are normal people like all of us and that we require them to be respected,” Marcouch told AFP.
“For cultural or religious reasons, some people reject homosexuals and compare them to animals,” said Marcouch
“They don’t see homosexuals as humans. These people can be orthodox Christians, Muslims or immigrants,” he said.
Atef Salib, who owns an Arab-themed gay bar in the centre of Amsterdam, says he is encouraged by the mayor’s efforts and is looking for a spot in Slotervaart to open a dance bar. “It would be a great step forward.”
But Slotervaart teenager Said retorted: “If a homo bar opens here, it will soon burn down.”