Rainbow flags are flying at half-mast throughout the Amsterdam Monday and Tuesday in recognition of a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin and in protest of pending antigay legislation in Russia, The Associated Press reports.
While it's not illegal to be gay in Russia, earlier this year lawmakers gave tentative approval to a bill that would make it illegal to hold gay public events or to disseminate LGBT information to minors. Violators would face fines up to $16,000. The bill still awaits final approval by parliament and would have to be signed by Putin.
Former Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen, who raised a rainbow flag in Amsterdam on Sunday, said it's as much a sign of protest as it is a sign of honor for the equality achieved in the Netherlands.
"We hope that what we did a while ago in the Netherlands will also happen in other countries, and then even more other countries: put gays and straights on equal footing. That's the essence of the whole thing.
"People say Putin won't care. Well, that might be, but I think that it also sends a very good message within our Dutch community for all gays that live and work here. I realize very well that gays here in Amsterdam don't have it easy And so it's good from my side to say what I think of that."