Netherlands leaders condemn brutal assault of LGBT couple

Ronnie Sewratan-Vernes and Jasper Vernes-Sewratan

Ronnie Sewratan-Vernes and Jasper Vernes-Sewratan.

Gay couple Jasper Vernes-Sewratan and Ronnie Sewratan-Vernes were attacked by a group of men while walking home hand in hand from a party in Arnhem during the early hours of Sunday morning. Ronnie lost four teeth and part of a fifth in the attack. Jasper got away with bruised ribs and bruises on his back and knee, RTL Nieuws reports.

The two were on their way home from a dance party at Luxor Live in Arnhem. “We’ll almost never show in public that we are in a relationship”, Jasper told the broadcaster. “But we had a few drinks, it was dark on the street and there were almost no people, so we held hands.”

When they reached the Nelson Mandela Bridge they were confronted by a group of six to eight young men. “I think they were Moroccans. They began to shout: disgusting, dirty, homo, such things. We shouted something back and walked on, but all of a sudden they came after us.” Jasper said to RTL.

Before they knew what was happening, the two men were pulled apart. “Suddenly I saw a guy pull bolt cutters out of his jacket and I heard Ronnie screaming: Jasper, Jasper, they knocked all my teeth out of my mouth’.” When Jasper reached his partner, Ronnie was covered n blood. “He was very upset. I immediately called 112.

The ambulance took us to the hospital, where his lip was attached.”

A 20-year-old man and a 14-year-old boy were arrested in connection with this attack. The police expect that more arrests will follow and call for witnesses to come forward.

1491455373787Straight men across the Netherlands are sharing pictures of themselves holding hands, following an alleged street attack on two gay men in the early hours of Sunday morning.Jasper Vernes-Sewratan, 35, and Ronnie Sewratan-Vernes, 31 were walking down a street in Arnhem, in the country’s east, when they were allegedly attacked by a group of teenagers.

Dutch men around the world are also holding hands to campaign against homophobic violence, days after a married gay couple was beaten up in the Netherlands for walking together hand-in-hand.

Using the Twitter hashtag #allmenhandinhand, Dutch men from Britain, Cuba and Australia posted photos and videos of themselves on social media holding hands with other men to condemn violence against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

Dutch politicians Alexander Pechtold of the D66 party and colleague Wouter Koolmees were the first public figures to show their support, holding hands outside parliament in The Hague on Monday.

“In the Netherlands we think it is very normal to express who you are,” Pechtold told reporters.

Local media said the gay couple were beaten up as they walked through the town of Arnhem early on Sunday.

Media reported that one of the victims lost four teeth and suffered a split lip and that four teenage boys had handed themselves into police over the attack.

Negotiators Alexander Pechtold (L), leader of the Democrats D66 party, and Wouter Koolmees, financial specialist of D66, hold hands as they arrive for a talk between relevant political parties, The People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD), Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA), Democrats 66 (D66) and the Green Left Party (GroenLinks), in The Hague, The Netherlands, on April 3, 2017. They participated in an act of solidarity for two gay men who were physical abused after holding hands in public in Arnhem, on April 1, 2017.

Police took four teenaged boys into custody late Sunday in connection with the assault of two gay men in Arnhem. The victims were holding hands walking home from a party early Sunday morning when they were confronted by a group of young men shouting slurs at them.

They were then struck by a man wielding a heavy set of bolt cutters, kocking out four of Ronnie Sewratan-Vernes’ teeth and severing his lip, and injuring the ribs of Jasper Vernes-Sewratan. The two say they usually conceal their relationship in public, but were holding hands after a fun night out.

All four arrested are from Arnhem, including a 14-year-old and three 16-year-olds. They join two who were held by police right after the attack, another 14-year-old boy and a man, aged 20.

The attack drew condemnation from several leading politicians in the Netherlands, including Prime Minister Mark Rutte, D66 leader Alexander Pechtold, and GroenLinks boss Jesse Klaver.

D66 leader Alexander Pechtold and party member Wouter Koolmees arrived hand in hand at the negotiations on the formation of a new Dutch government on Monday. They were holding hands to show support for a gay couple who was attacked in Arnhem over the weekend, Het Parool reports.

Journalist Barbara Barend started this action with a tweet calling on all men in the Netherlands to hold hands in public, to show support.  Jasper Vernes-Sewratan and Ronnie Sewratan-Vernes were attacked and beaten up by a group of young men early on Sunday morning as they were walking home from a party, holding hands.

LGBT interest organization COC wrote a letter to Edith Schippers calling for the next government to give combating violence against gays and lesbians ‘top priority’. “Getting roughed up because you love each other is too horrible for words”, COC said in the letter. The organization calls for more severe punishments for anti-LGBT violence and more information classes at schools to prevent violence.

Pechtold “absolutely” agrees with the COC call, he said to Het Parool.

According to VVD leader Mark Rutte, combating LGBT violence should always be a priority, regardless of whether a new government formation is going on. “This should be a top priority anyway. Terrible what happened”, he said.

GroenLinks leader Jesse Klaver agreed that stopping violence against LGBT people should always get attention. He called it “ludicrous” that there “are still people who think they should attack people” because of whom he or she likes. “That is bizarre, that’s just not normal and it does not fit in the Netherlands”, he said, according to the newspaper.

The story provoked outrage from the Dutch people, with the country’s prime minister, Mark Rutte, condemning the alleged incident.

Netherlands a true civalization. We salute them and want to hold their hand.

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