• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Thousands rally in Paris against gay-marriage
'Everybody is born to a man and a woman' reads the banner. One of many held by anti-gay marriage protesters in an estimated crowd of 800,000.

Thousands rally in Paris against gay-marriage

AFP/The Local · 13 Jan 2013, 18:02

Published: 13 Jan 2013 18:02 GMT+01:00

With the proposed legislation due to go before parliament at the end of this month, opponents travelled from all over France for a demonstration supported by leaders of the mainstream centre-right opposition, the Catholic church and France's five-million-strong Muslim community.

Organisers of the "manif pour tous” (demo for all) – a reference to the government's billing of its legislation as 'marriage for all' – estimated that 800,000 had taken part. Police however believe the figure was closer to 340,000.

The high turn-out will please those who want to put pressure on President Francois Hollande to change his mind, or at least hold a national referendum on the issue.

Hollande has made it clear he has no intention of dropping a promise he made in his election manifesto last year and is already pencilled in to attend one of France's first gay marriages once the legislation is enacted later this year.

Despite the protests, opinion polls have shown consistently that most voters support the right of homosexual couples to marry and a narrower majority favour adoption rights being enshrined in law.

The slim prospect of success did not appear to dampen the spirits of the protesters however as giant marches converged near the Eiffel Tower after setting off from three different starting points.

There was a festive atmosphere among the demonstrators with music blasting out from loud speakers as tens of thousands armed with balloons, banners and placards snaked their way through the streets of the French capital.

Andre Malrait, deputy mayor of Marseille travelled to Paris for the day to join the demonstration.

“We don’t want this law in France,” Malrait told The Local. “It will destroy the family. The government should at least hold a referendum.”

Another protester who had travelled from Marseille was Hervé Jourdain, who is gay but opposes legalising gay marriage.

“This is not about equality. I do not feel inferior just because I cannot get married,” he told The Local.

Many of the protestors were accompanied by children. Representatives of various religious faiths were also among the crowds.

Father Gregoire Maintenant, a Catholic priest from the west of Paris told The Local he was taking part as a citizen rather than as a representative of the Catholic Church.

“A child has the right to a mother and a father. It’s one of the basic necessities and it would be dangerous if it was lost,” he said.

GALLERY: FRENCH RALLY AGAINST GAY MARRIAGE IN PICTURES

In a separate protest to the main “manif pour tous” march, several right wing groups including the Catholic organisation Civitas, came together to express their opposition to the government’s plans to legalise marriage.

With members of far-right youth groups among the demonstrators this alternative rally was surrounded by a much greater security presence. Riot police were on hand to prevent the kind trouble that flared at a similar march last year.

War veteran Patrick Vigan, who joined the splinter protest, believed the future of France was at stake if gay-marriage is legalised.

“We see the family as the basis of society. If there is no family then we will have no country,” he told The Local.

Story continues below…

The movement against gay marriage has given France a new celebrity in the form of its public face, Virginie Tellenne, a Parisian socialite who goes by the name of Frigide Barjot.

Her assumed name – a play on the name of French film star Brigitte Bardot, a sex symbol in the 1960s – translates as Frigid Loony.

"The president must listen to us," Barjot said on Sunday. "He must put this law on hold."

Among those who took part in Sunday's protest was Jean-Francois Cope, the leader of the centre-right UMP party.

"This is an important test for Francois Hollande because you can see very clearly that there are millions of French people who are very concerned about this reform," Cope said.

Supporters of gay marriage are due to stage their own demonstration on January 27, two days before MPs are set to discuss the bill in parliament.

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
French towns divided over taking in Calais migrants
Photo: AFP

Towns across France are arguing over whether to take in migrants soon to be evacuated from the Calais "jungle" camp.

Paris region eyes up cable cars to unclog traffic jams
Could something like this be the future of transport in Paris? Photo: AFP

Did you know there are 12 cable car projects around the Paris region? Better than the RER trains surely?

Dos and don'ts to help you cope with writing in French

Writing emails in French is a whole new challenge that requires a whole new set of tips.

French writing phrases you can't get your head around
Photo: Ray Sadler/Flickr

Cher readers... Hope this helps. Cordialement, The Local

Paris banking district stages France's latest mock attack
Photo: AFP

The La Defense business district in Paris was the scene of the latest mock terror attack last night, as French authorities continue to take no chances.

French cows die after eating all winter stock in one night
File photo: AFP

Half a herd of cows ate themselves to death on cereals.

Grape thieves pilfer what's left of Burgundy wine harvests
Photo: AFP

Fed up with seeing thieves pilfer their precious grapes, vineyard owners in the famous region of Burgundy are taking extreme measures for the first time.

France to clamp down on rip-off home repair workers
All photos: AFP

Ever feel you've been ripped off by a plumber, electrician, or locksmith in France?

'Rogues' go on trial for ripping shirts of Air France bosses
Photo: AFP

A court in France will decide whether ripping the shirt off your boss's back is all part and parcel of a French labour dispute.

Hollande dealt major blow as jobless rate shoots up
Photo: AFP

The news could dissuade President François Hollande from even running for re-election.

Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Culture
The crazy French writing phrases you can't get your head around
Features
Room for improvement: Paris's matchbox apartments
'Stop telling immigrants to be French and help it happen'
Society
Take the test: How far have you assimilated into French culture?
Lifestyle
Eleven things you should know before moving to Paris
National
France's Marion Cotillard rebuffs rumours of fling with Brad Pitt
National
Eight arrested over links to Nice truck attacker
Features
Why everyone should party in a French chateau at least once
Travel
The Frenchman who hated 'Nazi-Zealand' after four-day hitch-hike fail
Culture
What's on: Ten exciting events across France in September
The 45-million year old underground shells that flavour Champagne
Features
French job speak: All the terms you need to know
'Resilient' Paris now a more appealing city than New York
National
France says it's OK to warn drivers about speed cameras
Meet Honorine, 113, the oldest person in France
Education
Grenoble named France's best city to be a student
Society
New Metro map reveals cheapest pints of beer in Paris
Business & Money
How reliant is the French economy on Paris?
Society
Here's why Parisians want to move to Bordeaux
And the 'best place to spend a weekend in Europe' is… Lyon
Analysis & Opinion
'Muslims in France must be considered ordinary citizens'
Armed guards to ride French trains from October
National
France among Europe's priciest for train travel
2,732
jobs available