Antwerp shines a rainbow light on gender prejudice


Antwerp lights up buildings in a spectacular campaign celebrating the LGBT community and warning against physical and verbal harassment

Rainbow light

Iconic buildings in Antwerp are lit in rainbow colours this week as part of a campaign against LGBT prejudice and harassment. Illuminated sites include the MAS museum (pictured), Central Station and the foot tunnel under the River Scheldt. The city's 'shining A' logo has also been coloured in to bring the message home, and to chime with the campaign slogan: "In Antwerp everyone can shine."

The campaign is the latest in a series of annual initiatives to encourage courtesy and tolerance in the city, following two years focused on sexual harassment. In addition to physical violence, the campaign wants to challenge verbal abuse and intimidating behaviour towards gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people.

"The campaign has a celebratory feeling, and that's appropriate," said Fons Duchateau, city councilor responsible for diversity. "After all, we have been proclaimed -- after Malta -- the most LGBTI-friendly country in the world, and it is good to highlight that. But we are not there yet. The campaign urges people to behave properly and remain courteous. Unfortunately, we still have to insist on that message."

Other aspects of the campaign include repainting the rainbow pedestrian crossings around the city, and the distribution of rainbow A lapel pins to anyone who wants to show their support. These will be available, free of charge, from 20 June at city council counters, police stations and other locations, as long as stocks last.

The campaign coincides with Pride celebrations in many countries around the world, and looks forward to the Antwerp Pride event in August. At the end of June the city is also playing host to the European Transgender Council, the largest gathering of trans activists in Europe.

Photo: Antwerp's MAS museum in rainbow light
Courtesy: Stad Antwerpen/Twitter