Over 2000 people have marched through the streets of Amsterdam in support of the LGBT+ community.
Gay couple Jasper Vernes-Sewratan and Ronnie Sewratan-Vernes were attacked by a group of six to eight men who saw them holding hands in the eastern city of Arnhem during the early hours of Sunday morning (April 2). Ronnie lost four teeth after being beaten with a pair of bolt cutters, while Jasper suffered injuries to his chest, back and legs.
The brutal homophobic attack has sparked outrage in The Netherlands, and even led to men sharing pictures of themselves holding hands on social media.
— ABC News (@ABC) April 6, 2017
“It’s been a long time since me and my husband walked hand in hand on the street,” one protestor told news station AT5. “I do not dare. You still get looks and people who spit. That’s really not nice.”
“It’s not like in the 90s anymore, it’s going in the other direction again. You don’t feel safe on the street at night. Then I don’t walk hand in hand unfortunately.”
Another protester added: “The freedom to love who you want, that is the summary of freedom,” “We as Dutch stand for freedom and will not let ourselves be oppressed.”
Three teenagers aged 16, two aged 14 and one man aged 20 have been arrested in connection with the attack, and police are still encouraging people with any information to come forward.
The editor of Attitude Holland, Martijn Tulp, praised the #allemannenhandinhand campaign for drawing attention to the incident, but stressed that politicians in The Netherlands need to do more as violence and intolerance against LGBT people increases in the country.
“It’s great to see pictures on social media, not just of politicians or celebrities, but anyone in general, of two men holding hands to show their support for this couple in Arnhem,” he said.
“Unfortunately this wasn’t just an isolated incident; just a day earlier two guys who had just left a gay bar in Eindhoven were also harassed and beaten, though luckily not resulting in any serious injuries. It’s a bit disappointing to see how only this incident is getting so much attention in the media and even by our Minister for Education, Culture and Science, because this problem is a structural one.
“There are several reports of hate crimes in The Netherlands a year. Many of them don’t get as publicised. Our climate seems to slowly but surely become more and more intolerant and violent towards LGBT [people],” he added.