KPN gives stage to DJs from LGBTQIA+-unfriendly countries worldwide

Jordan, Kenya, and Poland: three countries where LGBTQIA+ people are discriminated against, oppressed, and even persecuted. Equaldex gives the countries a failing score when it comes to people being able to openly celebrate their sexuality or gender and walk safely in the streets. For this reason, KPN is bringing DJs from these countries to the Netherlands during Pride Amsterdam. They will perform during the Canal Parade as proof that Pride cannot be silenced. The performances will be streamed via the global music platform DJ Mag, enabling people in Jordan, Kenya, and Poland, as well as the rest of the world to enjoy them live.

Party for freedom
Pride Amsterdam starts next Saturday and, exactly one week later, the world-famous Canal Parade takes place, in which dozens of organizations support the LGBTQIA+ community with festively decorated boats. This year, the theme for the KPN boat is ‘Loud & Proud’ and the hundreds of thousands of spectators on shore will be in no doubt about it. After all, the three DJs love to party.

Message to the world
‘Loud & Proud’ stands for much more than just a party, however. It is also a signal to the world that Pride will never be silenced. That’s why KPN is collaborating with DJ Mag. The global platform for electronic music helped to select the DJs and will broadcast a live stream of the performances. Consequently, the DJ set will be seen all over the world, including in Jordan, Kenya, and Poland. In addition, KPN has purchased advertising space from various Dutch media to highlight the DJs’ personal stories and the repression in their countries.

Safe environment
Pride is one of the events with which KPN seeks to inspire and motivate employees to be themselves. Apart from the artists, the boat is only accessible to employees, so they can participate in this celebration of inclusiveness in a safe environment.

Hilde Garssen, Chief People Officer and member of the Board of Management of KPN: “We think it is important that we can and are allowed to sail with the Canal Parade. KPN is committed to diversity, freedom, and equality, both in the workplace and beyond, offline and online. For us, Pride Amsterdam is a real party, but one with a serious undertone. Millions of people cannot be who they really are and are not allowed to love who they really love. Although we have no illusions that we can solve this global problem, we do think it is important to raise awareness and tell the world that Pride will not be silenced. As KPN, we are happy to play a connecting role in this.”

Diversity and inclusion
KPN has an active policy on diversity and inclusion and strives to create a safe and free environment for all employees. The internal ‘KPN Pride team’ is committed to the LGBTQIA+ community within the company all year round. In recent years, KPN has been lead sponsor of a Chair at Leiden University for the acceptance of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders in the workplace. Last year, the company won the Winq Workplace Award, intended for companies who actively promote a safe working environment for everyone. 

Three DJs with an extraordinary story

DJs Avtomat from Poland, ICHE from Kenya, and Shamsa from Jordan will perform during the Canal Parade.

Avtomat (Poland)
An openly queer composer, producer, DJ, and singer, graphic designer, typographer, and 3D illustrator. His music is just as versatile: from almost folk-like electronica to dark techno. He performs worldwide and recently played at Berlin’s legendary Berghain club. Avtomat is a strong advocate of equal rights for LGBTQIA+ people and has participated in all sorts of initiatives supporting the community. His homeland of Poland is an unsafe place for the community, despite being part of the EU. A third of the country has declared itself an ‘LGBTQIA+-free zone’ and Pride festivals there are regularly violently disrupted. 

ICHE (Kenya)
A queer Kenyan-Tanzanian artist, DJ, music producer, and singer from Mombasa, Kenya. DJ Mag named ICHE ‘artist to watch in 2022’. They began their career singing, but as a DJ mainly plays rap, dancehall, and reggaeton. On the dance floor in Kenya, their performances lead to red-hot parties, so that bodes well for the Canal Parade. ICHE is in danger in their own country. In Kenya, transsexuality and homosexuality are forbidden by law and ‘offenders’ can go to jail. Unfortunately, therefore, a public Pride is still impossible in the country.

Shamsa (Jordan)
Shamsa is the first woman electronic DJ & producer from the Jordanian capital, Amman. Besides being a musician, she is an artist and curates events in Jordan, Egypt, Dubai, and Berlin. No wonder that her DJ sets are a melting pot of cultures, in which both her Arabic roots and Berlin influences come to the fore. This musical master chef takes ingredients such as Middle Eastern melodies, house vocals, and banging tribal techno, and serves them up as a delicious dish. In her own country, Shamsa can’t just be herself. Last year, Pride in Amman was banned for ‘violating public morality’ and homosexuality is considered unacceptable by the vast majority of the population.

The livestream can be followed during the Canal Parade on Saturday, 6 August 2022 via kpn.com/loudandproud.