Soldiers wearing full uniform are to be allowed to to take part in the annual Canal Parade during Amsterdam's Gay Pride celebrations this weekend.
The decision is an about face for the Dutch Ministry of Defence, which previously implemented a ban on the grounds that it devalued the uniform to let it be worn during the gay pride event.
Peter Kees Hamstra from the Homosexuality and the Military organisation said: "We are very happy that this year the soldiers can sail along with the rest of the parade, and that they can be clearly seen in their uniforms. It is also true for soldiers that being out of the closet works best."
The gay Canal Parade takes part in Amsterdam each summer, with participants from across the globe taking part as a series of brightly coloured canal barges sail through the city in one of the biggest events of its kind in the world.
The Dutch Ministry of Defence is stressing that the soldiers will be participating on their own initiative, and that the ministry itself is not involved. The soldiers concerned have been instructed to make sure they are wearing "correct uniform".
There will be eight military personnel on board the "FNV (trade union confederation)/Company Pride Platform boat", alongside representatives of major multinational companies such as Cisco, IBM, Philips and Shell. The theme of the boat will be "out of the closet works better". Additional military personnel will be on board the Police Boat.
The participating organisations want to demonstrate their support for homosexual staff, says the FNV. It points out that many gay men and lesbians still cannot be open about their sexuality in the workplace.
Christian Democrat MPs
Also taking part in this weekend's parade will be members of the CDA Christian Democrat party. It's the first time politicians from the party, the biggest in the current coalition government, will be taking part.
Christian Democrat MP and emancipation spokesperson Corien Jonker will be travelling on a boat together with about 40 Christian gays and lesbians. The CDA - the largest party in the current three-party Dutch coalition government - is hoping this will stimulate dialogue between Christian homosexuals and the churches.
Last year Culture and Emancipation Minister Ronald Plasterk of the Labour Party took part in the Canal Parade, a move Defence Minister Eimert van Middelkoop of the Christian Union described as "provocative". Minister Plasterk will be taking part again this year, together with Deputy Minister Sharon Dijkstra, in a boat representing the ministry of education, culture and science.