France election: Macron laughs off gay affair rumours

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Emmanuel Macron, head of the political movement En Marche! at a campaign rally in Lyon on 4 February, 2017.Image source, Reuters
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Emmanuel Macron said rumours that he lives a double life are false

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron has dismissed lurid online rumours that he had a gay affair.

Mr Macron, a 39-year-old married to his former high-school teacher who is 20 years his senior, told supporters his wife Brigitte "shares my whole life".

Any reports of a double life were not about him but his "hologram", he joked.

The claims emerged on a Russian-owned website as the centrist nudged ahead of a key rival in polls, less than three months before the presidential vote.

Addressing a rally in Paris on Monday, Mr Macron said the claims of a secret life were "first and foremost unpleasant for Brigitte".

"She shares my whole life from morning till night and she wonders how I could physically do it!" he said.

"If in dinner-party chatter, or in forwarded emails, you're told that I have a double life," he added, "it's my hologram that suddenly escaped, but it can't be me!"

The joke was a reference to far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, who launched his presidential campaign in Lyon on Sunday - and appeared at a Paris rally simultaneously thanks to a 3D hologram.

Right-wing MP Nicolas Dhuicq told Russia's state-run Sputnik News on Saturday that Mr Macron was backed by a "very wealthy gay lobby" and suggested that his loyalties lay with big American banks.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has also been quoted by Russia's Izvestia newspaper as saying "we have interesting information" about Mr Macron, culled from the hacked emails of Hillary Clinton. Izvestia gave no details.

The fortunes of Mr Macron's centre-right rival. Francois Fillon, have waned over allegations that Mr Fillon's wife had done little work for the hundreds of thousands of euros she earned as a parliamentary aide between 1998 and 2012.

If the polls are right, Mr Macron would qualify for the second-round run-off in May and defeat far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who has backed Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea.