France players will wear rainbow laces during their match against Fiji in support of Gareth Thomas, the French Rugby Federation's vice president Serge Simon said on Tuesday, after the former Wales captain was a victim of a homophobic assault last Friday in Cardiff.
"Dear Gareth Thomas, all of French Rugby is with you regarding the homophobic molestation you've been victim of," Simon tweeted. "To show our support, the French rugby players will wear a rainbow shoelace during the France – Fidji game on Saturday night. We're all in with you in this matter."
Thomas posted Sunday a video on social media, sporting cuts and bruises to his face, saying he had chosen to ask for an apology rather than criminal charges after being attacked in his hometown for being gay.
Thomas, who came out as gay in 2009 and retired in 2011, said he was attacked for his sexuality but he decided to opt for “restorative justice” with a 16-year-old boy involved, which meant he could address his attacker rather than press charges.
Thomas, 44, said he wanted his social media post to spread a “positive message” which comes as figures show hate crimes against the LGBT+ community are on the rise in Britain.
“Last night I was a victim in my home city of a hate crime for my sexuality,” Thomas said in the video.
“I want to say thank you to the police, who were involved and allowed me to do restorative justice to the people that did this because I thought they could learn more that way.
“And also to the people of Cardiff who supported me and helped me because there’s a lot of people out there who want to hurt us. But, unfortunately for them, there’s a lot more who want to help us heal. So this, I hope, will be a positive message.”
A 16-year-old youth, who cannot be named, has since apologized, according to local police.
Since coming out as gay, Thomas has campaigned on gay rights issues.
Government data shows that reports of hate crimes against people on the basis of their sexuality jumped 27 percent last year, with almost 12,000 incidents lodged with the police.
The British government in October announced plans to enhance training for police handling hate crime, which includes offenses motivated by hostility on the grounds of race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and trans identity.