• France's news in English
 

Hundreds arrested at Paris gay marriage rally

Published: 27 May 2013 08:46 GMT+02:00
Updated: 27 May 2013 11:00 GMT+02:00

At least 150,000 demonstrators took to the streets of Paris to protest a new law allowing gay marriage, a largely peaceful gathering that later turned violent as riot police battled hundreds of right-wingers.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls said on Monday that police had made a total of 350 arrests, and that 36 people had been injured: 34 police officers, one AFP photojournalist and one protester.

In a statement, Valls blamed the "extreme right" for the violence.

"These incidents were provoked by several hundred individuals, most from the extreme right and the (nationalist) Bloc Identitaire, who violently attacked police," he added.

The rally came as the jury at the Cannes film festival in southern France on Sunday awarded its Palme d'Or top prize to the sexually graphic lesbian love story "Blue is the Warmest Colour" by French-Tunisian director Abdellatif Kechiche.

The main demonstration on Sunday saw three separate processions converging on the Invalides esplanade, filling the huge promenade with pink and blue – the colours adopted by the anti-gay marriage movement.

Police said 150,000 people turned out to protest, a figure immediately contested by organizers who said one million opponents of the law had shown up.

Some of the far-right activists briefly unfurled a banner at the ruling Socialist party's headquarters urging President Francois Hollande to resign.

As the protesters dispersed, after a largely peaceful march, police said up to 500 people began attacking them by throwing metal barriers, smoke flares and beer bottles.

The youths shouted slogans against the government such as "Socialist dictatorship" and also threw objects at journalists covering the event.

A video from France TV Info shows disturbances at Sunday's rally, including images of 
protestors kicking and beating photojournalists between 0:20 and 0:32.

Late on Saturday, police had detained 50 people involved in an anti-gay marriage protest on the busy Champs-Elysées avenue.

Fears of unrest at Sunday's protest had been fueled by violence that erupted earlier this month during celebrations marking football club Paris Saint-Germain's league victory, which saw tourists attacked and shop and car windows smashed.

Some 4,500 security forces were mobilized for Sunday's demonstration that was billed as a last-ditch show of force by opponents of the bill allowing same-sex marriage and adoption, which was voted into law on May 18th following months of bitter protests.

But those in the protest ignored the recent tensions, bringing their children along as others had in previous demonstrations.

"We keep hearing about a far-right movement, I can see only families here," said one man called Raoul, who came from the city of Dijon.

Onlookers were instead treated to creative forms of protest. One man dressed in black held a scythe and wore a mask of Hollande as he stood behind a coffin containing a mannequin dressed as Marianne, the emblem of France.

"Hollande, your mother isn't called Robert", shouted some of the demonstrators in a slogan that gained in popularity as the afternoon progressed.

Supporters and opponents of the bill began protesting last autumn when it was adopted by the cabinet, and continued to do so at regular intervals throughout the country during the legislative process.

The definitive vote in the French parliament came on April 23rd when the law was passed, legalizing both homosexual marriages and adoptions by gay couples.

One of Hollande's campaign pledges, it has proved hugely divisive in a country that is officially secular but predominantly Catholic.

France is the 14th country to legalize same-sex marriage, an issue that has also divided opinion in many other nations.

In Brazil, tens of thousands of evangelical Christians marched in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday protesting a recent legal ruling allowing gay marriage.

And in Poland, some 10,000 protesters marched Sunday in solidarity with opponents of the French law, to defend the traditional family structure.

But according to a survey published on Sunday in the Journal du Dimanche, nearly three-quarters of French people are tired of the anti-bill protests and think they should stop.

Another potential flashpoint will be in the southern town of Montpellier on Wednesday when the country's first gay wedding is due to take place.

AFP/The Local (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Local elections
French socialists take a beating in local elections
Nicolas Sarkozy hailed the victory of his centre-right alliance that routed the Socialists in the local elections. Photo: AFP

French socialists take a beating in local elections

France's ruling Socialists lost out to the right in the country's local elections on Sunday as Nicolas Sarkozy said the French public had massively rejected the Hollande government. Reports said the National Front failed to take control of a council. READ  

Right expects boost from Sunday’s local polls
Photo: AFP

Right expects boost from Sunday’s local polls

France's ruling Socialists look set for a drubbing in local polls Sunday that are expected to deliver a boost for former president Nicolas Sarkozy and far-right challenger Marine Le Pen. READ  

Gay support for National Front on the rise
Gay rights leader Sebastien Chenu with Marine Le Pen. Photo: AFP

Gay support for National Front on the rise

A recent survey shows gay support for the National Front is rising. Some gays say the far-right party is more open to minorities than France’s mainstream parties, despite a history of homophobia. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Co-pilot 'hid sick leave note' for day of crash
Details about the co-pilot Andreas Lubitz began emerging on Friday, including the fact he had been signed off sick for the day of the crash.

Co-pilot 'hid sick leave note' for day of crash

German prosecutors revealed on Friday that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, who is believed to have deliberately crashed the Germanwings plane in the Alps, had a sick leave note from his doctor for the day of the crash, but hid his illness from his employers. READ  

IN PICTURES
Harrowing search at Alps plane crash site goes on
The search continues in the French Alps. Photo: French Interior Ministry/Twitter

Harrowing search at Alps plane crash site goes on

UPDATED: French authorities are yet to find any intact bodies as they continue the painstaking search for victim body parts among the wreckage of the Germanwings plane that crashed in the Alps. Investigators are also hunting for the second black box. READ  

Alps Plane Crash
Brother of Alps crash victim: 'I am in a rage'
Claude Driessens, who lost his brother Christian in the plane crash. Photo: BFMTV

Brother of Alps crash victim: 'I am in a rage'

Friends and family members of the victims of the Germanwings plane crash have been left horrified and angry after the revelations that the co-pilot deliberately downed the plane and that he had been signed off sick for the day of the crash. The Local speaks to one man who lost his brother. READ  

What's on in France: Ten things to do in April
Runners at the annual Paris marathon. Photo: AFP

What's on in France: Ten things to do in April

Spring has finally arrived, and it promises a series of fun activities from the Paris marathons to epic Easter egg hunts. Here are ten events in April definitely worth checking out. READ  

Consumer confidence in France hits five-year high
Consumer spending is on the rise in France. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

Consumer confidence in France hits five-year high

French consumer confidence has hit a five-year high, the Insee statistics agency said on Friday, signalling that households feel more optimistic about the country's growth. READ  

Paris: Iron Lady to dim lights for Earth Hour
The Eiffel Tower will momentarily lose its sparkle to mark Earth Hour. Eiffel Tower photo: Shutterstock

Paris: Iron Lady to dim lights for Earth Hour

It may be known as the City of Light but on Saturday evening even Paris and its most famous monument the Eiffel Tower will go dark to mark Earth Hour. Parisians will then have to dance for the Iron Lady to be restored to its glittering glory. READ  

Islamophobia in France
Pregnant Muslim woman attacked in France
Muslim women protest about France's decision to ban the veil. Photo: AFP

Pregnant Muslim woman attacked in France

A headscarf-wearing Muslim woman in her final month of pregnancy was violently assaulted in southern France this week, in what has been labelled an Islamophobic attack. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
What's on in France: Ten things to do in April
National
Images released of the harrowing search at Alps plane crash site
IN PICTURES: Grieving relatives visit plane crash site in Alps
Can the 'nightmare' of a pilot downing a plane be prevented?
National
Co-pilot suspected of crashing plane
National
Paris: France mulls lifting ban on casinos
Damaged black box could hold key to Alps plane crash probe
Does low cost mean low safety? Questions after Germanwings crash
Gallery
IN PICTURES: A timeline of the Alps plane crash
National
So what might have caused the plane crash in the French Alps?
National
Videos emerge of Alps crash site wreckage
National
What we know so far about the plane crash in the French Alps
National
Where in La Belle France do British expats avoid?
National
IN PICTURES: 'Tide of the century' draws tens of thousands
National
Paris ends smog-fighting restrictions as the air finally clears
National
The main mistakes made by French property buyers
National
International French Language day: But what does the future hold?
National
IN PICTURES: What went on behind the clouds during Friday's eclipse
National
French food porn: What is the Gallic grub that goes viral the most?
Culture
France treated to rare Northern Lights show
Politics
Shady candidates undermine French far-right's election bid once again
Politics
French minister takes a swipe at overuse of Franglais in workplace
French gastronomy set for global charm offensive
French newspaper stuns readers with porn film pics on front page
Sport
The reasons why Zlatan Ibrahimovic might really think France is s**t
National
France could soon ban skinny models from catwalks
Health
Is France's much-envied health care system under threat?
National
There are jobs in France where you don't need to speak French
National
New plan to improve life in rural France drawn up
Education
Paris universities on the up in new rankings
Sport
We meet one of the most entertaining footballers in France
National
New plan to improve life in rural France drawn up
Features
Forget Paris. Is Bordeaux the best place to live in France?
Travel
Runaway plane mows down skier on the slopes of French Alps
Society
Friday 13th: A look at France's superstitions
Culture
France is ready to end its stubborn resistance to the English language
Features
'Hedgehog' and other words that French people simply can't say
Society
The worst 'nightmares' of living in France (written by a Frenchman)
Health
French hospitals crisis: 'It's like the UK under Margaret Thatcher'
Sponsored Article
Expert US tax preparation for Americans in France
VIDEO: Footage emerges of the moment two helicopters collided
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Helicopter crash kills 10, including French sports stars
Culture
What's on in France: Ten things to do in March
New French rail strike: RER B and regional trains to be worst hit
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se