Paris protesters march against gay marriage, adoption (PHOTOS)


People take part in a protest organized by French far-right party Front national (FN) party against same-sex marriage in Paris on Jan 13, 2013.


Thomas Coex

Hundreds of thousands marched in Paris over the weekend, protesting President Francois Hollande's plans to legalize gay marriage and adoption by gay parents, which the president promised during his campaign.

March organizers said 800,000 people gathered at the Champ de Mars park at the Eiffel Tower, while police put the number at about 340,000, according to the Guardian.

But while public turnout was high, much more than the 100,000 person protest in November, Hollande's Socialist party has the parliamentary majority needed to pass the legislation without bipartisan support. The new laws are expected to be approved by the end of the month.

Demonstrators waved placards that read, "We don't want your law, Francois" and "Don't touch my civil code," the BBC reported. Other banners read, "marriagophile, not homophobe," "all born of a father and mother" and "paternity, maternity, equality," Al Jazeera reported.

The demonstrators are supported by the Catholic Church and France's right-wing opposition National Front party. They say the bill undermines the family and argue that children have the right to have a mother and father.

"We are not here to denounce anyone or to oppose anyone, certainly not homosexual people, but we want the silent majority to be heard," said Frigide Barjot, a comedian who has become one of the most prominent spokespeople of the movement. "The father-mother-child family is the DNA of our society."

Yet the event illustrates cross-cultural conservative developments as well, explains GlobalPost's Paul Ames.

"The mass protest underscored the divisive nature of the issue in France where conservative Catholic groups have allied with organizations from the country's Muslim minority," Ames said.

Hollande's office acknowledged that turnout against his proposals was significant. France's support for gay marriage has reportedly decreased, to a current rate of about 55 percent, Al Jazeera said. However, the president indicated he would not change his mind.

Same-sex weddings are legal in 11 countries, including South Africa, Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden. Nine American states and the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage.

GlobalPost's Ames says Britain's Conservative-led government is planning to introduce a bill legalizing gay marriage later this month. "Over 1,000 Catholic clergymen signed a letter this week criticizing the proposals, but so far there has been much less public resistance in Britai," he said.

Follow Paul Ames @p1ames, who contributed reporting from Brussels.