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NWO looks back on successful Pride Event

On Monday 8 May, a successful Pride event for the entire NWO organisation, including the NWO Institutes, was held at SRON in Leiden. The LGBTI+* event had a very good turn-up with over 40 participants, welcomed by SRON's institute's manager Annemieke Beers and CWI's HR manager and organizer Léon Ouwerkerk. Four strong speakers carried the meeting: Ilse Aben (SRON), Tana Joseph (NAIEC and UvA), Russell Shipman (SRON), and Marjolein Verkouter (JIVE). Each of them told us about their field of expertise in astronomy, and shared to some extend their personal stories. It was moving to hear how some have struggled with their identity, also in relation to their families.
*LGBTI+ stands for lesbian women, gay men, transgender and intersex people.

IDAHOT: the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

The goal of the afternoon was to show LGBTI+ role models and learn from them, create awareness about LGBTI+ in general, show support towards NWO’s LGBTI+ employees, learn from each other, connect to people and to network. This event was planned around the beginning of May for a reason, because on 17 May, it is IDAHOT: the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia.

It is good to realize that things have improved for the LGBTIQ+ community in parts of the world, but we don't have to look far to sea dark clouds loom. You probably have heard about the suppression of the LGBTIQ+ population in Russia and Uganda, but also in the United States there has been a lot of aggression recently against the queer community, especially against drag performers.

But even closer to home, in the Netherlands, there is still aggression and misunderstanding towards the LGBTIQ+ community. Aggression on the streets against gays for instance, but also misunderstandings of bisexual persons, and discrimination of transgender people. At the moment, the Netherlands is dropping in the ranking of countries on LGBTIQ+ rights, among others for not guaranteeing the rights of intersex people.

Also at the NWO workplace, even though it might be subtle in a lot of cases, we have to be aware of biases and discrimination. This not only applies to the LGBTIQ+ community, but also to colleagues with a disability, with another cultural background, of course women, etc. It is important to fight for equal right for everyone. For this reason, it was very good to have this event at SRON, with a very diverse range of LGBTIQ+ employees of NWO and other from the academia, and - just as important - with participation and support of many straight allies.

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