Media Taken in By Dutch "Gay-Only" Village Hoax
Dutch and foreign media were taken in by an elaborate hoax regarding the construction of a "gay-only" village. A recent article in The Guardian reports that the authorities in a southern city took part in a ruse by a group called the Pink Monday Foundation, to make a statement against intolerance.
The hoax tricked numerous local and international news outlets, including Britain's Independent newspaper, Chinese state news agency Xinhua and the Huffington Post. The state broadcaster NOS and the national daily newspaper NRC reacted angrily to being duped, after they had published stories about plans for a gay community outside of Tilburg.
"We are extremely annoyed by the way the Tilburg council handled the matter," wrote NOS and Amsterdam-based NRC in a joint letter. "The Tilburg municipality deliberately misled the press and allowed them to publish incorrect information."
The plan for the "Gay Village" was given authenticity when the city's mayor and a developer endorsed it as a "protected community." It caused a wave of protests in the Netherlands, with people saying there was no need for a "gay ghetto."
Tilburg Mayor Peter Noordanus admitted that he had "underestimated the impact of my quote," but said that it was his intention all along to spark a dialogue.
"I did this with the aim of drawing attention to gay rights and not to trick the media and society," Noordanus said in a statement. "That's what happened and that's annoying."
Pink Monday, which organizes a gay festival with the same name during Tilburg's summer festival, was also pleased with the reaction, saying, "It was an elaborate hoax, sure, but one to make a statement against intolerance of the gay community in the Netherlands. The negative reactions we got are positive for Pink Monday. We are happy that people think a gay village is a crazy idea."