Authorities in a southern city took part in an elaborate hoax announcing the construction of a "gay only" village on Thursday, after which Dutch media hit out.
State broadcaster NOS and national daily NRC reacted with fury after it emerged they had fallen for the hoax a day earlier by publishing stories about the plan for a community specifically for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents outside Tilburg.
AdvertisementThe hoax also caught out several international news outlets.
The plan for the so-called "GayVillage", complete with a slick website and promotional videos, was cooked up by the Pink Monday Foundation, which organises a gay festival with the same name during Tilburg's annual summer festival.
Endorsed by the city's mayor and a developer to give it more authenticity, "GayVillage" was supposedly a "protected" community to be built on land north of Tilburg.
The "plan" unleashed a wave of protest in the rights-sensitive Netherlands with people taking to Twitter to denounce a "gay ghetto", saying there should be no need for a special area to protect homosexuals.
On Thursday, Pink Monday said that was precisely the reaction they were hoping for.
It was "an elaborate hoax, sure, but one to make a statement against intolerance of the gay community in the Netherlands," it said.
"The negative reactions we got are positive for Pink Monday. We are happy that people think a gay village is a crazy idea."
The NOS and the influential Dutch daily NRC fired off a furious letter, saying they were not amused.
"We are extremely annoyed by the way the Tilburg council handled the matter," NOS and Amsterdam-based NRC wrote in a joint letter.
"The Tilburg municipality deliberately misled the press and allowed them to publish incorrect information," the letter added, saying their credibility has been damaged.
Tilburg Mayor Peter Noordanus admitted that he had "underestimated the impact of my quote".
"I did this with the aim of drawing attention to gay rights and not to trick the media and society," he said in a statement.
"That's what happened and that's annoying."
The NOS and NRC were not the only ones caught by the stunt.
Britain's Independent newspaper, Chinese state news agency Xinhua, the US Huffington Post as well as the world's oldest gay rights group, Amsterdam-based COC, also fell for the hoax.
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