Hundreds of people walked hand-in-hand through the streets of Amsterdam on Wednesday in a show of solidarity for two men who were severely beaten as they walked home from a party in Arnhem in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Attack sparked by two men holding hands
Married couple Jasper Vernes-Sewratan and Ronnie Sewratan-Vernes told police that the confrontation began because they were holding hands.
The five teenagers believed to have carried out the attack are expected to be charged with serious bodily harm later today.
A step backwards
There was sadness mingled with the defiance of Wednesday’s marchers.
Sjag Kozak, who married his husband in Amsterdam and has lived in the city for 21 years, said “I find it really absurd, unbelievable and this is feeling like we are going backwards, so that’s why we’re here: To make a statement to let people know that we are moving forward and not going backwards.”
The attack has particularly stung in a country, which, in 2001, became the first in the world to legalise gay marriage.
68-year old Marion Van Hees said that she was marching “for equality, for equality and freedom, in response of course to the two lads in Arnhem. In the 60s, I stood on the barricades for freedom, and this is what has become of it. Now we’ve got to do it again, and I thought we had finished, that we had achieved it. But that’s clearly not the case. And I think that’s very sad. So I’m going back to the barricades again.”
The show of solidarity was given a higher profile on Monday when the leader of the Dutch D66 party, Alexander Pechtold, arrived for coalition talks in the Hague holding hands with his finance spokesperson Wouter Koolmees.
Kunnen deze hele week alle mannen (hetero en homo) alsjeblieft gewoon hand in hand lopen…— Barbara Barend (@barbarabarend) April 2, 2017
Journalist Barbara Barend prompted worldwide action when she tweeted a call for all men, whether gay or straight, to walk out hand in hand. This prompted the posting of numerous images using the hashtags #allemannenhandinhand and #handinhand.
NLinCuba</a> men on <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Malecon?src=hash">#Malecon</a> in solidarity with gay couple assaulted for holding hands in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NL?src=hash">#NL</a>. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/allmenhandinhand?src=hash">#allmenhandinhand</a> = <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/allemannenhandinhand?src=hash">#allemannenhandinhand</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LGBTI?src=hash">#LGBTI</a> <a href="https://t.co/Iwvyy6dqmx">pic.twitter.com/Iwvyy6dqmx</a></p>— Liesbeth Mol (LiesbethMol) April 4, 2017