Men all over The Netherlands are holding hands in solidarity with a gay couple who were viciously attacked over the weekend.
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, RTL Nieuws reports.
The brutal homophobia attack has sparked outrage in The Netherlands, which became the first country in the world to legalise equal marriage back in 2001, and has been condemned by public including Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
Two leading politicians went one better on Monday, however, publicly holding hands as they arrived at talks on the formation of a new Dutch government in The Hague in solidarity with the couple.
Alexander Pechtold, leader of the liberal D66 party, arrived hand in hand with party colleague Wouter Koolmees, telling reporters: “We think it is quite normal in the Netherlands to express who you are.”
— Lousewies v d Laan (@LousewiesvdLaan) April 3, 2017
The touching display came as the hashtag #allemannenhandinhand began spreading throughout The Netherlands, encouraging men to share pictures of themselves holding hands in support of Jasper and Ronnie.
A protest is also set to take place in Arnhem this weekend calling for an end to anti-gay violence and intimidation.
Images shared over the last 24 hours show men from all walks of life, gay and straight alike, proudly showing affection for one another to in public to show that homophobia will never win the day.
Three teenagers aged 16, two aged 14 and one man aged 20 have been arrested in connection with the attack, and police are 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.”
He continues: “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].”