WORLD

A party for pedophiles

A Dutch court gets just a bit too progressive on an issue of child safety

CAMERON AINSWORTH-VINCZE August 14 2006
WORLD

A party for pedophiles

A Dutch court gets just a bit too progressive on an issue of child safety

CAMERON AINSWORTH-VINCZE August 14 2006

A party for pedophiles

A Dutch court gets just a bit too progressive on an issue of child safety

CAMERON AINSWORTH-VINCZE

Netherlands is known for its liberal laws on everything from drugs and prostitution to euthanasia. But a recent court decision has proved a bit shocking even for the Dutch. The Hague District Court refused to ban a group of self-confessed pedophiles from forming a political party, ruling that a ban violates their right to freedom of expression. Launched in May, the Brotherly Love, Freedom and Diversity (PNVD) party seeks to lower the age of sexual consent from 16 to 12, and advocates legalizing child pornography, hard drugs and bestiality.

Although it’s unlikely the party will get the estimated 60,000 votes it needs to win a seat in November’s parliamentary election, comments from its members have sparked outrage. “A ban just makes children curious,” says Ad van den Berg, one of PNVD’s founders, who was convicted of molesting an 11-yearold boy in 1987. “We want to make pedophilia the subject of discussion.” But Ireen van Engelen, of the Solace Foundation, an anti-pedophile group which brought forth the case, believes their motives are different. “They make out as if they want more rights for children. But their position that children should be allowed sexual contact from age 12 is of course just in their own interest,” she told a local paper. Solace has no plans to appeal the ruling, saying it doubts the party will attract any support.

Peter Herman, spokesman for the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), which supports consensual relationships between men and boys, says Dutch researchers like Dr. Fritz Bernard and politicians like Senator Edward Brongersma (knighted by the Queen even after his views were known) have been free to speak and write on what he calls “intergenerational relationships.” “The PNVD is simply part of an existing strand of Dutch thought.”

Voters will decide just how popular a strand it is. In the meantime, Canadian activists are appalled. “It’s clearly atrocious,” says Samantha Wilson, president of Kidproof Canada, a child safety organization. Legalizing child porn is a particularly objectionable notion, because it leads to the abuse of children. “The government allowing this to happen is putting the rights of the child aside.” M