Opponents of France’s controversial law allowing gay couples to marry aim to use the international profile of the Tour de France to show their opposition to it when the three-week race starts on Corsica a fortnight tomorrow, planning on being present at every stage to get their point across.
Late last month, Vincent Aubin and Bruno Boileau became the country’s first gay married couple at a ceremony in Montpellier – coincidentally, the finish town of Stage 5 of this year’s Tour.
The previous weekend, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators had staged a protest in Paris against the law, which also allows same-sex couples to adopt children.
One of the opponents of the reform, UMP politician Samuel Lafont, is behind the ‘Tour de France Pour Tous’ – ‘the Tour de France For Everyone’ – which was launched earlier this week as a means of highlighting opposition to same-sex marriage during the Tour, reports France24.
‘Tous’ in this context doesn’t include those who wish to marry someone of the same gender, or those who support someone’s right to do so – instead, it’s inspired by the popular name given to the law, ‘Mariage Pour Tous.’
Writing on the event’s Facebook page, Lafont said: “From all regions of France, come out and participate in the ‘Tour de France Pour Tous.
“From June 29 to July 21, we will have extraordinary international visibility. We must use this opportunity to demonstrate our opposition to this law and to the modern gender theories that lie behind it.”
“The idea is not to disrupt the race, but to be visible on French and international news media, at every stage of the race,” added Lafont, although that could be wishful thinking – demonstrations against same-sex marriage have attracted extreme elements, resulting in violent clashes with police, and it’s also possible there will be counter protests.
France24 says that Tour organisers ASO declined to make a comment on the issue when contacted.
Last Sunday, the men’s singles final between Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer at the French Open was interrupted by a protestor against same-sex marriage who managed to get onto the court and was unceremoniously bundled off by a security guard.
Anyone planning a similar stunt anywhere near the podium at the end of a stage during the Tour may wish to consider that Bernard Hinault, who acts as a kind of master of ceremonies at the presentations, jealously guards his territory .
Last year, as Bradley Wiggins stood on the podium in front of the Arc de Triomphe, the Frenchman intervened to physically throw off a fan who had somehow managed to make his way onto it.
Hinault, nicknamed the Badger, has also been known to punch the odd protestor who has intruded on his domain in the past.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.