Straight Men Are Holding Hands in LGBT Solidarity in the Netherlands
There is a powerful new protest sweeping across the Netherlands in support of gay rights.
This week, Dutch men are holding hands in public as an act of protest after an anti-gay attack on Sunday left a gay male couple brutally beaten, according to Mashable.
Alexander Pechtold, a Dutch politician and leader of the Democrats 66 party, tweeted an image of himself holding hands with fellow politician Wouter Koolmes with the caption, "Stop violence against gay people."
He was joined by dozens of other photos on social media of men holding hands with other men.
The idea was sparked by Dutch journalist Barbara Berend, who called on Dutch citizens to hold hands in support of the two men who were attacked, Jasper Vernes-Sewratan and Ronnie Sewratan-Verne.
The men were holding hands early Sunday morning in Arnhem, Netherlands when they were attacked, Vernes-Sewratan ttold Dutch broadcaster . He said the pair usually avoids holding hands in public so as not to "provoke people" but thought they were enjoying a private moment after a night out.
Instead, they were attacked.
"Before I knew it I was on the ground fighting with three men on top of me," Vernes-Sewratan said.
Berend suggested that men take photos holding hands and share them with the hashtag #allemannenhandinhand (#allmenhandinhand).
The hashtag was used by soccer players, students, police officers, politicians, and workers, all of whom posed for photos in protest against homophobia.
There has been an increase in anti-LGBT violence in the country in recent years, from 400 incidents in 2009 to nearly 1,600 in 2015, according to the report, while convictions remain worryingly low.
Tanja Ineke, the president of the LGBT rights group COC in the Netherlands, said the attack on the couple in Arnhem was "too awful for words."
"It is incredible that you are beaten because you love each other and walking hand in hand," he told NOS.
Ineke said that education about homophobia and acceptance in schools could help prevent violence later on, but that the Netherlands also needs stricter laws and better enforcement around anti-gay hate crimes.