Wanting to make a point about the violence facing the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in the Netherlands, a Dutch gay rights group this week orchestrated an elaborate hoax that successfully fooled many around the world.
Earlier this week, news that a real estate developer was planning to build a gays-only village in the Dutch city of Tilburg went viral after a story about the proposed neighborhood appeared in a local newspaper. The selling point of the neighborhood, said local reports, was that it would be a safe space for LGBT individuals to live. Even the mayor of Tilburg, Peter Noordanus, told media he supported the planned village.
But according to Dutch news site NLTimes.nl, the so-called "Gay Village" was a hoax planted by the Roze Maandag foundation. The group -- which organizes Pink Monday, a pride event held in Tilburg every summer -- is said to have orchestrated the ruse to cast a spotlight on the challenges facing the country's LGBT community. Citing a report by Dutch broadcaster NOS, DutchNews.nl writes that Tilburg's mayor had actually been in on the hoax and had "knowingly cooperated" in the scheme.
"#RozeMaandag doesn't want to exclude, but positively include #Gayvillage #hoax," the organization wrote in a tweet Wednesday.
When news of the gays-only village made headlines earlier this week, many in the Netherlands expressed their outrage at the plan.
Local gay advocacy group COC condemned the idea, saying it didn't believe that a segregated neighborhood would be the "right solution to unsafe living surroundings for Dutch LGBTs." Several Dutch celebrities voiced their disdain, as well.
TV personality Peter van der Vorst said he hoped "this enclosed gay ghetto is just a joke,” per NLTimes. Talk show host Cornald Maas told his Twitter followers that he found the plan "shameful and moronic."
The Rose Maandag foundation said this week it is "happy" at the reactions the hoax provoked.
"We are happy with the thousands of negative reactions, and the fewer positive ones,” the foundation said in a statement, per NLTimes. “It is great to hear that the majority is against the idea. All we wanted was to create awareness, and we are certain that we succeeded in this.”
Last year, the Central Bureau for Statistics of the Netherlands released a report stating that 30 percent of lesbians and 22 percent of gay men felt "unsafe in their own neighborhood" in 2012. The same report said that homosexuals were "more often victims of crime" than bisexual and heterosexual individuals.
Ultimately, the Rose Maandag foundation says it hopes the hoax will prompt discussions about how the Netherlands as a whole can become a safe space for the LGBT community.
"Gay Village Tilburg may not be real, [but] intolerance against the gay community is," the group wrote on its website Thursday, per a HuffPost translation. "A safe residential situation is not obvious for everyone. Members of the gay community are faced with discrimination and violence every day. Gay village is not a solution to that problem, but the idea responds to a need [which has been shown today] to really exist."