Taxis on Leidseplein. Photo for illustration.Photo: ANP/Hollandse Hoogte/Sake Rijpkema

Marie decided to order a taxi after an evening out on Leidseplein and go home. In the taxi she was confronted with discrimination. Marie explained this to the cameras of political party D66. “Driver started making comments about people on Pride pretty quickly.”

Marie was present at the Pride in Amsterdam earlier that day, together with two friends. After that, the trio decided to go out on Leidseplein. “Afterwards, around .00 hours, we wanted to go home and decided to take a taxi,” Marie says in the YouTube video. “Still in the euphoria of the evening, we were chatting and enjoying the afterglow. The taxi driver soon started making comments about people on Pride, especially gay men. He mentioned how bad it all was, how dirty he thought it was. Then we got into a discussion with him.”

Unsafe situation During that discussion, according to Marie, things went completely wrong. “It led him to turn on us and start calling us names for anything and everything. What also made the situation unsafe for us was that he started driving very fast and dangerous. Everywhere in between, even through red traffic lights. We wanted him to stop the car and for a police car to come. However, he wanted us to pay.”

According to Marie, the police car never showed up. “It was Friday night, the busiest night of the week,” she says. “A nice twist was that another taxi driver came in and said to this taxi driver: ‘leave them alone. Don’t act like that, I’ll take them home’.”

Looking back on this event, Marie is still impressed. “But I mainly look back on it as something that made me extra combative. Every year there are incidents, but for me that is really something that is unacceptable. Every day, but especially on a day when you know that Amsterdam is celebrating diversity.”

Diversity course Although the above situation did not happen at his company, Gerry Oosterbaan, director of taxi company RMC, is horrified by stories like this. “I don’t want anyone to be discriminated against. Customers must not be discriminated against by our staff, nor vice versa. There is simply no room to discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender or whatever. Discrimination has no place with us.”

To reinforce those words, the Rotterdam taxi company decided to give their drivers a diversity course in 66 to prevent abuses in the taxi. “Of course we sometimes have to deal with customers who are transgender. If someone is a transgender woman and is addressed as ‘sir’, then that is of course not pleasant. Things like that sometimes happen in practice. Sometimes it has to do with ignorance. You can’t always see from the outside how someone wants to be addressed. That is why it is also something that you must pay explicit attention to. That is what we have done.”

Troublesome subject Although Oosterbaan advises every taxi company to offer such a diversity course, he believes there are other things that can be done to prevent discrimination in the taxi. “You can simply draw up rules about this. You then have to enforce that, point this out to people. Just say what you find acceptable and what you don’t. Make it clear to the staff what you expect from them. It starts with you as a company making it clear to your staff what standards and values ​​you stand for.”

“Apart from that, discrimination remains a difficult subject,” admits Oosterbaan. “When something like that happens, it’s often one person’s word against the other’s. You are not there yourself when one of your drivers is on the road. Still, I don’t think this topic is an exclusive taxi problem. It’s a social problem. It is clear that it plays.”

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