Teens held in sadistic attack on gay men holding hands; Politicians show LGBT support

Alexander Pechtold and Wouter Koolmees walk hand in hand to support a gay couple beaten up for holding hands in Arnhem
Alexander Pechtold and Wouter Koolmees walk hand in hand to support a gay couple beaten up for holding hands in ArnhemPhoto: @APechtold / Twitter

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.

Netherlands leaders condemn brutal assault of LGBT couple

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.