Significant increase in discrimination in Zaanstreek-Waterland, ‘hardening of society’

The number of reports that Zaanstreek-Waterland registered in 2023 has increased significantly. Not only compared to 2022, but also compared to previous years. In 2023, 166 reports of discrimination in the region were made to the organization. An increase of 35 reports compared to 2022.

Archive, December 2022: Burnt rainbow flag in Monnickendam – Photo: NH Media

“The number of reports seems small, but it is enormous,” Erik Schaap of the organization tells RTV Purmerend. More reports have been received, especially in Purmerend: from 30 in 2022 to 54 in 2023. In the municipality of Waterland, the number of reports increased from 8 to 14.

The increase is part of a trend. Since 2017, there has been a constant increase in the number of reports in the Zaanstreek-Waterland region. The number of reports has also been increasing nationally for years., formerly known as the Discrimination Affairs Office, is an organization that deals with discrimination. The organization collects reports and works with reporters to see how the reported problems can be solved.

Schaap says that the increase in reports is mainly due to topics that are LGBTI+ related and discrimination on the basis of race and skin color. Schaap has bad news for the first group: “Tolerance and acceptance are decreasing and that is happening at a fairly rapid pace.”

Schaap places the responsibility on politicians: “Some parties say that you should just act ‘normal’. And they decide what is normal.”

Unsafe feeling

LGBTI+ people in Zaanstreek-Waterland therefore feel increasingly unsafe. Last summer, 19-year-old Liam from Wormerveer was assaulted after walking hand in hand with his friend. He sustains several bruises in his eye socket and neck. “I have always felt very good. It is a quiet village. The fact that this happens has a major impact,” he said at the time.

Schaap has several possible explanations for the increase in the number of reports, but ‘it is difficult to prove it’. He states that the hardening of society, the increase in conspiracy theories, a number of political parties and social media may be behind the increase.

He says this about social media: “A lot happens there that is not desirable. People can say almost anything they want there, under the guise of freedom of expression.” He emphasizes that people do not always realize that freedom of expression is limited in the Netherlands: “You are not allowed to say everything.”

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