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.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.