Same-sex marriage opponents on Sunday interrupted the men’s final of the French Open in Paris.
The French newspaper Le Monde reported a shirtless man wearing a white mask who had “the rights of children” written on his body ran onto the court holding a flare during the final match between Spanish tennis stars Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer. Four protesters also unfurled banners inside Roland Garros Stadium that criticized French President François Hollande and said in English that “with help, France ridicules the rights of children.”
“This kind of thing is regrettable but it has been taken care of remarkably by our security staff,” said tournament director Gilbert Ysern in a statement.
“It was a very quick moment,” said Nadal — who went on to win the match, and his eighth French Open title since 2005. “I felt a little bit scared at first because I didn’t see what was going on. I just saw a guy with some fire and I got a little scared at the first second. But then I saw it was one of these things that nobody can prevent.
“I want to thank very much all the security guys. They did amazing work. They were very courageous what they did so I just want to say thank you very much to them.”
Hommen, a group opposed to France’s same-sex marriage law that Hollande signed last month, also posted a picture onto its Twitter page that shows five shirtless men holding flairs and unfurling a banner from the top of the stadium that urged the French president to resign.
Police say they also detained six more demonstrators who were found at the neighboring court where the Legends tournament was taking place, according to Reuters.
The first gay couple to legally marry in France tied the knot in the city of Montpellier on May 29, but same-sex marriage supporters maintain rhetoric against the law has sparked anti-gay violence across the country.
France 24 on Sunday reported a skinhead who allegedly beat Clément Meric, an 18-year-old left-wing activist who campaigned for the country’s same-sex marriage law, to death outside a Paris subway station last week will face manslaughter charges. Opponents of nuptials for gays and lesbians routinely clashed with French authorities during protests in the weeks and months leading up to the National Assembly’s final approval of the same-sex marriage bill on April 23.
Police on May 26 arrested more than 200 people who clashed with police at the end of an anti-gay marriage march in Paris.
Charles Roncier, a gay blogger who is an assistant editor for the website VIH.org, told the Blade last week that La Manif Pour Tous and other same-sex marriage opponents are “out for blood” because “they lost the fight.”
“The political climate has definitely been altered by the months of homophobic protests,” he said. “We can say that far-right extremists feel more confident than ever to demonstrate, appear on [television] to spread their hate speech, especially after the tolerance the traditional… right-wing showed towards these extremists.”