Essential Information LGBT+ men and women living in Amsterdam
LGBT+ in Amsterdam – As the numerous Pride events every year show, The Netherlands is one of the most liberal and tolerant countries in the world in terms of acceptance of gays, lesbians and the wider LGBT+ community. Those celebrations are attended by hundreds of thousands of people. It also includes a huge number of companies and many government departments. This is important as the protection of gays and lesbians from discrimination is enshrined in law since 1993. LGBT+ people cannot be discriminated against in the areas of employment, public services and housing. Then in 1998, same sex partnerships were recognized and protected by the law. Then in 2001, came another first as The Netherlands became the first country in the world to allow same-sex marriage.
This is all progress and The Netherlands is a leader in this area. However, things were not always this way as you can imagine. In 1911, one of the first laws relating to the gay community actually raised the age of consent from 16 to 21. In many other countries homosexuality remained illegal. However, in The Netherlands, you could still lose your job for being homosexual. So even though there were advances, there were little or no protections. Even as gay-friendly bars started to appear in larger Dutch cities, no laws were in place for the gay and lesbian community.
Then came the Second World War and the Nazis outlawed same sex activities on punishment of being sent off to the camps. Almost as soon as the war ended, the COC was established. This is the oldest official Dutch lesbian and gay rights association. It fights for equal rights for the LGTB+ community in The Netherlands and across the world. It even has a special consultative status with the United Nations.
In the decades after the war, Amsterdam was at the forefront of gay and lesbian issues and became a beacon for the community due to its very tolerant attitude. There are many gay-friendly or specifically LGTB+ bars and night clubs across the city. Unlike other large cities across the world, there is not a specific LGTB+ area in the city. This is probably due to the city wide acceptance of gay and lesbian citizens who then felt no need to live in one area of the city.
Inaugurated in 1987, the Homomonument is on the Keizersgracht behind the Westerkerk. It commemorates all the people from the LGBT+ community that have suffered persecution because of their homosexuality. It serves also as a reminder that this must stop. Flowers can often be found on the monument.
The monument website is here.
The Gay Pride events are a major celebration in so many towns and cities across the world and the same it true in The Netherlands. Gay Pride Amsterdam is generally at the beginning of August and is one of the largest in the world.
Many larger cities host gay pride events each year, including The Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht and Dordrecht. The largest and most popular is the Amsterdam Canal parade. The weeklong festival in Amsterdam was jam packed full of great events. You can see some our favourites from 2019 in the blog post we created here.
LGBT+ Bars and Cafés in Amsterdam
The LGBT+ social and nightlife scene does not have one big epicentre in Amsterdam. Sure, the Reguliersdwarsstraat near Rembrandtplein is popular with the community, but there are other ares near Amstel, Zeedjk and Kerkstraat that are also hugely popular. The Warmoestraat area which is runs north from the Dam towards Centraal Station, used to be a hub, but some of the popular bars for the gay leather scene moved or closed. Here is a small selection of LGTB+ places to hang out and have a drink in Amsterdam. There are many more of course.
Cafe ‘t Mandje
The original gay bar in Amsterdam that is really a family affair. It opened in 1927 by the Van Beenen sisters. Then in 1982 it was mothballed for some time and now their niece Diana Van Laar runs it. Gay and straight are welcome to enjoy the quirky decor and fun cocktails. The motto of the bar is : Fun and respect since 1927. We don’t know any better.
Address : Zeedijk 63, 1012 AS Amsterdam – Open mid afternoon until late every day except Monday.
You will know Prik as you pass down Spui because of the crowds and the laughter on the street outside this popular watering hole. Prik actually means ’Bubbles’ in Dutch – they have some amazing Proseco at great prices. It is a lively place with a fun selection of cocktails, flowing Prosecco and themed drinks nights. I met the owner and the staff today and they were so kind and friendly.
Spuistraat 109, 1012 SV Amsterdam
The Queen’s Head
This one is on the Zeedjk too and on the edge of the Red Light. Slightly back from the main road, it is a good chance to get some respite from the surrounding craziness. Inside you can drink an array of strong drinks at great prices, while you admire the drag queens and the chandeliers.
Zeedijk 20, 1012 AZ, Amsterdam
In the sleepy Jordaan is this wonderful gay friendly brown café which is like stepping back in time. In 1978, ten women formed a collective and Saarein became a women’s café. Now the owner is Dia and the café is a haven for all LGTB+ people. Good drinks, great music, playing pool and flirting are on the menu.
Elandstraat 119, 1016 VX, Amsterdam
Here are some more bars and clubs by area for your to discover:
Kerkstraat: Club Church, Spijker
Amstel: Bar Monmartre, Amstel 54,
Warmoestraat- Dirty Dicks, Eagle
This is just a selection, but the Iamsterdam site has a page dedicated to venues here.
LGBT+ Associations and help in Amsterdam
As in any major city with a large LGBT+ community, there is a large number of associations available to help and serve. Here we list some of the main ones.
COC (Cultuur en Ontspannings-Centrum)
The COC has grown since 1946 into what is probably the largest LGBT+ association in the world. They help their members with a range of issues including : housing, advice, finances and much more. They advise and consult with local government on behalf of the LGBT+ community.
This is a very useful service for the LGBT community in the Netherlands. A helpline you can call for LGBT+ issues. A calming voice will discuss with you anything you might want to go over. The website is here and the phone number is 0300 330 0630
Amsterdam Gay Pride Foundation
This is the central point for the organisation of the annual Gay Pride events and other LGBT+ events all year long.
Their website and the phone number is 06 1479 3189
The Police – Pink in Blue
In order to offer a fair and impartial service, the local police service has a ‘Roze in Blauw’ team. These are officers with an affinity to help the LGBT+ community. It ensures that and complaints about harassment or discrimination because of sexual orientation will be properly health with.
Website (in Dutch) and the phone number is : 088 169 1234
LGBT+ sports clubs.
Pride & Sports Amsterdam is an association that covers all the different clubs for the LGBT+ community. You can find all the various club details on their website. (In Dutch)
Formed in the 80’s this is an association and an affordable community club. There is no profit principle and puts on a party every Sunday on the Bilderdijkstraat.A good atmosphere, great music with a safe and affordable experience are on the cards and a younger LGBT+ crowd.