The Hague - Dutch media hit out on Thursday after authorities in a southern city took part in an elaborate hoax announcing the construction of a 'gay only' village.
State broadcaster NOS and respected national daily NRC reacted with fury after on Wednesday publishing stories about the plan for a community specifically for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents outside Tilburg.
The 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 everybody should feel safe on the country's streets, irrespective of sexual orientation.
On Thursday, Pink Monday announced the whole idea was "an elaborate hoax, sure, but one to make a statement against intolerance of the gay community in the Netherlands".
"The negative reactions we got are positive for Pink Monday. We are happy that people think a gay village is a crazy idea," it said.
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 the two news organisations' credibility has been damaged.
Tilburg city authorities did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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.