You may have seen photos of men all over the world walking hand in hand. They’re doing it as a powerful sign of support for a gay couple brutally attacked in the Netherlands while they were holding hands. The social media trend has brought together men from different countries, religions and even political parties—all to protest homophobic violence.
According to police, Jasper Vernes-Sewratan and Ronnie Sewratan-Vernes were attacked by a gang of young people, all under the age of 20, in the early morning hours April 2. The suspects used a heavy set of bolt cutters to injure the victims. One of the men lost four teeth! The other has injured ribs. The victims told several media outlets they rarely hold hands in public, but this time, they thought they were alone.
In response, Barbara Barend, founder of a Dutch magazine, made the original call asking all men, gay and straight, to walk peacefully hand in hand, inspiring the hashtag “allemannenhandinhand.” And they listened! Dutch politicians Alexander Pechtold and Wouter Koolmees joined hands before arriving at a meeting the following day.
— Alexander Pechtold (@APechtold) April 3, 2017
The Dutch Embassy in London tweeted this pic using the hashtag.
— Dutch Embassy London (@NLinUK) April 4, 2017
Men from the Dutch Embassy in Greece also followed suit.
— NL Embassy Greece (@NLinGreece) April 5, 2017
As did some religious leaders.
Some athletes prove there’s more to life than football…
— N.E.C. Nijmegen (@necnijmegen) April 3, 2017
Hopefully these two young boys can help us all learn the value of love over hate.
— frerieke (@frerieke) April 5, 2017
Police officers and men from other rescue agencies have joined the movement as well.
Here’s a show of support from Netherlands natives who work in New York City…
— Lise Gregoire-van Haaren (@LiseGvH) April 3, 2017
The support went far beyond the hashtag. Jasper Vernes-Sewratan shared what happened on his Facebook page. It’s been shared nearly 7,500 times. The post has more than 13,000 comments.
A Dutch gay rights organization says the country has experienced a record number of crimes against gays and lesbians in the last six years, but only nine offenders were sentenced in 2015.
According to CNN, all six suspects in this attack are now in police custody.