The International Homomonument is a memorial near the historical city center of The Hague in the Netherlands. It serves as a commemoration for all lesbian women, homosexual men, bisexuals, transgenders, queers and intersex people, anywhere in the world, persecuted or oppressed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, in the past and in the present. The sculpture was unveiled in 1993.
The plan for the memorial was introduced in June, 1985 when an initiative was accepted onto the agenda of the city council of The Hague. The plan was accompanied by an extensive report on the social and legal situation of homosexual men and lesbian women in this city. The report included a number of suggestions on how to improve the emancipation and how to counter discrimination of that part of the population. The foundation of a memorial was one of the suggestions. In October 1986 the plan was adapted by the city council.
Realization of the memorial
On 16 October 1987 our foundation was created for the fundraising and realization of the monument. It’s end goal would be handing over the ownership of the monument to the city government. The idea behind this was that integrating the monument into the official city structure, for care taking, would be an act of emancipation on it’s own.
After a competition, the assignment for an artwork was awarded to Theo ten Have. His design was described as a steel object on a pedestal of granite, seven meters tall. It’s shape and colors are symbolic of a self-conscious gay life. Blue/gray being the basis for awareness, the knot in the sculpture symbolizes the conflicts, the inner struggle and the pink color of the top part, reaching upward, expresses liberation, full development of ones personality. Artist Theo ten Have in 1993: „The more open the living environment and the more freely people can develop, then the same also applies to gay people in that country”.
The Dutch poet Ida Gerhardt allowed the use of a sentence from her poem ‘The Garden of Epicurus’, to be engraved in the pedestal of the memorial: “Waar vriendschap open als het zonlicht is, werd ons een ongepeild geluk beschoren”, which loosely translates as: “Where friendship is open like the sunlight, we were given a profound happiness”.
It took seven years before a location was found where the memorial could be erected, and where opposition to the subject of the matter didn’t block it’s realization. The site was far from being the best choice at hand, away from the city center, in a strip between a road and a viaduct. On October 1st, 1993, the art work was unveiled by an alderman of the city of The Hague. Subsequently, the ownership of the memorial was handed over to the city. As a consequence of which, the city accepted the responsibility to maintain and protect the memorial. On a separate, concrete pedestal, a plaque was added in 2011. In four languages it explains the reasons for founding of the memorial.
In February, 2014, two city councilmen supported the initiative of the COC Haaglanden for a more suitable site for the memorial and eventually the memorial was moved to the present location, where it was unveiled for the second time in April, 2015, by Mayor Jozias van Aartsen. Being much closer to the city center, near the central train station, on a grass field of significant size, the monument facilitates the present and future commemorative events much better.
Present location: Map
May 4th remembrance
May 4th is the Dutch national remembrance day for the fallen of World War Two. Since 1994 an annual ceremony is being organized at the memorial. Supported by gay- and lesbian choirs, an honorary guard of the Netherlands police and fire brigade, speeches are given by leading persons from the LGBTI community and special guests from the Dutch and international society. The well being, political- and legal developments on the subject of LGBTI rights being at the core of their content, and in the light of World War Two. The city of The Hague is always being represented by members of the municipal assembly and/or an alderman. Since 2015 the amount of public present on May 4th has grown significantly to approximately 250 people.
The ceremony usually starts at 7:30 p.m. and ends at approximately 8:20 p.m. Following Dutch tradition, after the Tattoo signal has been played on a trumpet, we hold two minutes of silence at 8:00 p.m., followed by the Netherlands national anthem, after which flowers are being laid down by the memorial, first by officials, followed by the public.
Beacon for the LGBT community
The memorial has an increasingly significant function for the LGBTI community in The Hague; as a sign of visibility within society, as a connecting symbol and as a beacon for vigilance against oppression. For example, additional activities at the memorial were organized on the occasions of Coming Out Day, the The Hague Pride Walk and a commemoration for the tragedy in Orlando in 2016.
Written by: Foundation International Homomonument The Hague (Dutch: Stichting Internationaal Homomonument Den Haag) (2019)
This text has been released under the license CC-BY-SA 3.0