• Politicians, emergency workers and priests have all shown solidarity. (Instagram / Twitter)Source: Instagram / Twitter
From priests to emergency workers, chefs to TV hosts - around the Netherlands, people have rallied in solidarity behind a couple who were bashed after being seen holding hands.
Ben Winsor

5 Apr 2017 - 2:26 PM  UPDATED 5 Apr 2017 - 2:29 PM

Last weekend Dutch couple Jasper and Ronnie were walking home at around 4 am after a party in the central Dutch city of Arnhem when they were attacked by a gang yelling homophobic slurs.

"We were never really the type to go hand in hand in public. You can get slurs and we don't like that, but it was dark and late so we held each other's hands," Jasper told Dutch local broadcaster Omroep Gelderland.

But then they were reportedly spotted by six to eight youths on bikes who started yelling slurs.

They told Omroep Gelderland they walked past them, trying to ignore it, but were then attacked - with one of the attackers wielding bolt cutters.

Jasper said he escaped with scrapes and bruises, but Ronnie lost five teeth - broken off at the root - and had his upper lip ripped.

"You don't expect it, we live in 2017. You do not expect such extremism in response to homosexuality. And why? Because we are happy with each other?" Jasper told Omroep Gelderland.

They aren't the only ones surprised by the attack.

From LGBT+ groups to national politicians, the incident has shocked and appalled many in the Western European country.

"Bashed because you love each other, it is too horrible for words," said Tanja Ineke, President of Dutch LGBT+ advocacy group COC.

Dutch TV Presenter Barbara Barend made a call on Twitter for all men - gay and straight - to walk hand in hand as a show of solidarity. 

That call didn't fall on deaf ears.

Senior politicians - in the midsts of negotiating a new coalition government - took time out to speak to media about the gay bashing, walking up to cameras hand in hand.

From priests to emergency workers, chefs to TV hosts - around the country people have rallied behind the hashtag #allemannenhandinhand (all men hand in hand).

Organisers hope for hundreds to attend a rally in Arnhem this Saturday in a show of solidarity.

COC has said the incident highlights the need for the government to address what they say is a spike in reported homophobic incidents in recent years.

Reports of physical or verbal abuse have risen from 428 in 2009 to 1,574 in 2015, the group says.

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