Two heterosexual men from New Zealand have angered both gay rights activists and conservative groups by getting married in order to win tickets to next year's Rugby World Cup.
Matt McCormick, 24, married his best friend Travis McIntos, 23, at Eden Park rugby stadium today as part of controversial competition run by Edge Radio who live-streamed the event.
The two have been friends for over two decades and said they were not trying to make a political statement; they were just looking to celebrate their friendship. "We are not here to insult anyone," he told the NZ Herald.
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
The 'I Love You Man' competition was launched to see "how far two good mates would go to win a trip to the Rugby World Cup".
Campaigners have called it a 'homophobic stunt' that makes a mockery of marriage equality. Same-sex marriage became legal in New Zealand last year.
"Something like this trivialises what we fought for," said Neill Ballantyne, co-ordinator of a Queer Support. "The competition promoted the marriage of two men as something negative, as something outrageous that you'd never consider".
According to GayNZ, insensitive homophobic jokes were made throughout the ceremony, with one of the grooms making a throat-slitting gesture at the mention of the men sharing a bed together.
The Legalise Love campaign said: "The Edge can dress it up in whatever language they like; the point of this competition is that men marrying each other is still something they think is worth having a laugh at."
Conservative groups were quick to call the response from activists "ironic". "This competition makes a mockery of marriage, but so did the redefining of marriage," said Bob McCoskrie, director of Family First, a lobby group opposed to same-sex marriage.
However, not everyone echoed the criticism. Some activists said that even though they disagreed with the way the competition had been run, they appreciated the exposure it gave marriage equality.
Continue reading for free
We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.
Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.