PARIS, France – A Gay Pride march in Paris Saturday, July 2, has caused a row in France's hard Right National Front (FN), with some student supporters backing an event decried by a party vice-chairman.
"More than ever necessary after the homophobic attack in Orlando, we wish a good #MarcheDesFiertés (Gay Pride) to all," tweeted the association of FN students at the Paris Institute of Political Studies.
The tweet, just as the march started in the capital, was met with consternation however from other FN supporters – not least vice-president Louis Aliot, who took to Twitter to give an entirely different line.
"The FN does not support the Gay Pride March, an exhibitionist and anti-FN symbol of militant communitarianism," Aliot said in a message retweeted by FN lawmaker Marion Marechal-Le Pen, niece of party FN president Marine Le Pen.
Another party vice-president, Marie-Christine Arnautu, as well as the leader of the party's youth wing Gaetan Dussausaye, also disapproved of the pro-march message from the Sciences Po grouping.
Dussausaye said it was "out of the question...to support the Gay Pride march."
Arnautu also expressed astonishment while FN regional councillor Axel Loustau indicated that "hoisting aloft one's sexuality as a standard is as indecent and measly as homophobia."
There was no immediate reaction from another party vice-president Florian Philippot – outed two years ago by a French magazine, Closer, as gay.
At the time, decrying an attack on his private life by the magazine, Philippot insisted that "the FN is not gay friendly, (but) it is not the opposite either. It is French friendly."
Former FN leader Jean-Marie Le Pen once indicated he saw homosexuality as a "biological and social anomaly" although Marine Le Pen, his daughter, has sought to soften the party line in advocating, for instance, civil partnerships for same-sex couples.
Thousands of people took to the streets for Saturday's march amid tight if discreet security three weeks after the attack on a Florida nightclub which killed 49 people.
"Three weeks on from the LGBT-phobic and racist attack in Orlando, to march is an act of resistance. We must not give in to fear," insisted Amandine Miguel, spokesperson for organisers Inter-LGBT association.
On Paris's Place de la Bastille, marchers stopped to observe a minute's silence in memory of the Florida victims.
Some 1,000 police were on hand along the 4.6 kilometre (three mile) route, reduced by a third from the normal route eight months on from the Paris attacks.
The march usually takes place one week earlier but was put back with France still hosting the group phase of Euro 2016.
In Spain, meanwhile, Gay Pride marchers also took to the streets, chanting slogans such as "I am bisexual, bisexual, bisexual."
One banner at the head of the march was emblazoned with the words "2016, year of visibility for bisexuality..." – Rappler.com