An anti-equal marriage movement in France, which has organised a rally this weekend hoping to bring out 200,000 demonstrators, has found a leader in a comedian who has denied accusations of homophobia.

Frigide Barjot, real name, Virginie Tellene – is a born-again Catholic, and reactionary comedian, has brought together various Christian, conservative, and far-right groups together to rally against marriage equality, reports France24.

In early November, French President Francois Hollande’s government approved a bill to legalise equal marriage and allow gay couples to adopt.

In late December thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Paris, in support of the government’s decision. A protest against the legislation also took place.

The comedian and columnist denied being homophobic, said she had a life-long attachment to an ex-boyfriend who afterwards came out as gay, and also that she had spent “25 years working in gay nightclubs”.

She went on to say: “I do not deny gay love and I’ve got nothing against gay culture,” she said in an interview on Friday. “But I cannot condone the introduction of a new type of marriage into France’s civil code.”

In 1987, the comedian said she was “struck in her heart”, and had since been a devout Catholic, and active defender of Catholicism. She had described herself as “Jesus’ press officer”.

Despite some opposition to the bill, which was brought in by President Hollande’s Socialist government, the party holds a strong majority, and the legislation is expected to pass.

The government is set to consider the bill later this month, and both supporters and those opposed to the legislation are set to demonstrate later in January.

According to newspaper Le Figaro, the weekend’s protests will “write [Frigide Barjot] into the history book of the French Catholic movement”.

The paper did go on to say that the rally might not turn out in her favour: “In an era when the church has not one single charismatic character to represent it, she will become either the ephemeral media image of this movement, or Saint Frigid.”

On Wednesday it was announced that the ruling Socialist government had dropped medially assisted reproduction for lesbian couples, from the country’s upcoming equal marriage bill.

Today, a YouGov poll reported that a majority of people in several European countries believed that same-sex couples should be allowed to get married and adopt children, but that in France the public is divided.