AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – A Dutch gay group said Monday it has planned a "Pink Christmas" festival for the first time in Amsterdam, featuring a manger stall with two Josephs and two Marys.
Other attractions in the 10-day festival include parties, an open-air market, gay-themed films, an ice skating rink and religious services on Dec. 25.
ProGay group chairman Frank van Dalen said Monday the event is intended to increase the choices for homosexual men and women during the Christmas holiday week.
"Right now, there's not much to do," he said.
The festival will also encourage people to think about homosexuality and religion, Van Dalen added.
Some Christian groups protested. The organization Christians for Truth said the idea "mocks the core concepts of Evangelism."
"By putting Joseph and Mary down as homosexuals, a cracked human fantasy is being tacked on to history from the Bible," the organization said in a statement urging the city and organizers to cancel the event.
The manger, with actors playing the parts of Joseph and Mary, goes on display Dec. 21.
Van Dalen said it was not intended to be offensive, but was meant as a "wink" at heterosexual assumptions.
"Christmas is about more than religion, it's also about love and families, not to mention shopping," he said. "Two men or two women can form a family too these days, even one with a child."
Gay marriage was legalized in the Netherlands in 2001, and adoption rules are the same here for gay or straight couples.
Van Dalen said the Pink Christmas initiative was also intended to help promote Amsterdam as a gay capital after a decline in its reputation in recent years.
A study last month found that homophobia is an ingrained problem in the city despite the Dutch reputation for tolerance, and physical attacks on gay men are a weekly affair.