Thousands of people rallied in Paris and across France on Saturday to protest a government bill that would extend marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples. March organisers said marriage required “one dad and one mom for every child.”
Opponents of a bill that would open up civil marriages and adoption to same-sex couples in France marched in the country’s main cities on Saturday to protest what they call a “major and dangerous upheaval”.
Protesters took to the streets of Rennes, Nantes, Dijon, Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille and Toulouse to participate in the so-called “Demonstration for All” rally organized by conservative Catholic groups and which counted on the support of right-wing parties.
Their stated goal was to persuade French lawmakers to abandonplans to pass the new law called “Marriage and Adoption for All”, which is being championed by France’s ruling Socialist Party.
In Paris thousands of people gathered in the Denfert-Rochereau square, many brandishing signs that read “one mom and one dad for one child”. The crowds largely respected requests by organisers to wear blue, white and pink clothes and abstain from brandishing the names or colours of their own organizations or political parties.
Organisers said there was between 15,000 and 20,000 people at the protest in the French capital.
Marc, a 60-year-old Parisian who said he was a fervent Catholic, called the government hypocritical. “They all have wives and children. So they understand perfectly well what kind of deviations would result from the approval of gay marriages.”
He was holding a sign that read “No to genitally modified marriage”.
Despite an overcast sky and heckles from pro-gay marriage activists, there was a lively atmosphere throughout the march, with many young people present.
Students Victoria, Dauphine, Eléonore, Flore and Marie were five friends volunteering at the event together. “We defend our vision of what society should be like. Our first concern is the child’s well being and balance,” said Flora. “If the law passes, it would be z deep injustice to the child, who is not given a choice.”
Gay rights activists and supporters of the government’s initiative also staged counter-rallies in the French capital. Around 100 people in favour of gay marriage met the rally at its starting point in southern Paris.
Mathias, a student from Paris in favour of gay marriage, debated the issue with anti-gay marriage participants on the sidelines of the march. Making little progress in convincing protesters, Mathias and a friend provocatively proceeded to lock lips.
Alice Coffin, a 34-year-old gay rights activist, greeted protesters with a sign that read “Homophobes, we are not interested in your opinion, only the same rights as you.” She and a group of around 50 people threw confetti and rice –used for its link to weddings– when the march passed near the Montparnasse train station.
“I think the government is firm on this law,” Coffin said, adding she did not think the anti-gay marriage march would change the government’s course. “But the fight is not over yet and it’s important to be out here today.”