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Dutch Men Protest Homophobia by Holding Hands

(AFP) – Dutch male politicians, police and diplomats have taken to streets around the world holding hands this week in a very public show of support after a brutal attack on a gay couple.

Pictures of men walking around hand-in-hand from The Netherlands to London and New York have gone viral under the hashtag #allemannenhandinhand (or “all men hand-in-hand”) on social media.

The move came after Jasper Vernes-Sewratan, 35, and Ronnie Sewratan-Vernes, 31, were attacked on their way home early Sunday in the eastern city of Arnhem. One of them lost several teeth and got a bloody lip after being attacked with a bolt-cutter.

Five teenagers, two 14-year-olds and three aged 16, were Thursday due to appear before magistrates, after handing themselves in following the attack, Dutch prosecutors said.

It is believed all five took part in “very serious offences,” the prosecution service said in a statement, adding they faced charges of grievous bodily harm.

“We don’t usually do that, holding hands in public,” Sewratan-Vernes told the public broadcaster NOS after the attack.

“But we had had a nice evening, it was late and we thought we were alone.”

The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalise gay marriage in 2001 and the attack has shocked the Dutch.

In response, journalist Barbara Berend called for men to hold hands as a show of solidarity.

Her call won high-level support when the leader of the Democracy D66 party Alexander Pechthold and his colleague Wouter Koolmees arrived at the parliament building in The Hague on Monday morning holding hands.

Since then, the gesture has been replayed by Dutch men around the world, while on Wednesday dozens marched in Amsterdam holding hands, and carrying rainbow-coloured umbrellas.

Male colleagues from the Dutch embassy in London and Canberra tweeted a picture of them stepping out hand-in-hand, following similar images from the Dutch delegation at the United Nations in New York.

Even the Nijmegen first division football club has got in on the act, posting a picture on its Twitter account of the team lined up holding hands facing its stadium.

“The N.E.C turns its back on anti-gay violence,” reads the caption.

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