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Gay marriage foes set to target Tour de France
Last year's Tour de France winner crosses the line. Will the peloton be greeted by angry anti-gay marriage protestors this time? Photo Wyll photographie/AFP

Gay marriage foes set to target Tour de France

Published: 12 Jun 2013 10:31 GMT+02:00
Updated: 12 Jun 2013 10:31 GMT+02:00

Despite already being legalized, and despite the first weddings taking place, French opponents of gay marriage are planning to use the "global visibility" of the Tour de France to publicize their fight, it was announced on Wednesday.

"From June 29th to July 21st, we will have an incredible global visibility  to show our fight against the law," read a statement on a new Facebook page created to inspire protesters to line the 3,360-kilometre route. 
 
And while the first stage of the race will get rolling on the island of Corsica, the remaining 20 stages will cover well near every corner of mainland France, offering protestors across the country the chance to snatch a bit of prime-time coverage.
 
Their Facebook page implored would-be demonstrators to send private messages with points on the route they would consider protesting at, giving the impression that the 'Tour Pour Tous' (Tour for all) will try to organize as wide a coverage of the famous event as possible.
 
The page also launched the hashtag #tourpourtous to prompt users on the social media site Twitter to rally to the protesters' defence. By Wednesday, proponents and opponents alike had begun using the keyword to trade jibes.
 
One woman took a swipe at the Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who has repeatedly said that anti-gay marriage demonstrators must respect that the law was passed democratically. 
 
"Valls, will he succeed in sleeping during the #TourPourTous" @SoleneBizet tweeted. 
 
Another Twitter user, @aurelienberti, told the demonstrators simply "You are ridiculous". 
 
While the demonstrators plan not to disturb the actual race, instead grabbing global headlines by their numbers, they have already faced criticism from an unnamed conservative UMP politician, who is also against the new law. 
 
"The Tour is not the government, you can't annoy people," the politician told France Info.
 
It is not the first time the anti-gay marriage movement has exploited a high-profile sporting event to lambast the new law in front of a global audience. 
 
As the French Open wrapped up on Sunday, security personnel detained a total of 12 protestors demonstrating at the global tennis spectacle. 
 
In the second set of the men's final, a bare-chested man wearing a white mask and holding a flare jumped out on to centre court and made his way toward Rafa Nadal's side before being tackled by security guards. His chest muscles were decorated with the words "Kids' Rights" in French and in English. 
 
The half-naked protester was later revealed to be part of an activist group called "Hommen", which has proclaimed it wants to be the "flag bearer" of the gay marriage resistance movement.
 
A representative from Hommen did not respond to The Local's request for comment earlier this week.
 
Rafael Nadal, meanwhile, despite his stature, admitted the demonstrator's entry on centre court had made him a little afraid.
 
Not scared enough, however, to lose the match against Spanish compatriot David Ferrer. 
 
 "I think Rafa was a bit frightened but I didn't lose my concentration," Ferrer told the media with a laugh at the conclusion of the game. 

Ann Törnkvist (ann.tornkvist@thelocal.com)

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