French President Francois Hollande appears to have backtracked on suggestions that mayors who oppose equal marriage should be allowed to personally opt-out from pending legislation.

Earlier in the week, President Hollande said he respected mayors’ “freedom of conscience” on the matter and stated the possibility of allowing them to delegate responsibility to councillors if they had a personal objection to marrying gay couples.

The comments, made at a national mayors’ conference on Tuesday, sparked widespread anger from equal marriage supporters, with some fearing that the president was succumbing to political pressure by opponents.

The Inter-LGBT association described it as “treachery”.

However, France 24 reports that President Hollande has now retracted the remarks, saying they were “inappropriate”.

“The law must be applied everywhere,” President Hollande later told reporters on Wednesday evening.

Last weekend, around 70,000 people took to the streets of Paris to protest against plans to legalise marriage rights for French gay couples.