As many as a quarter of a million people have gathered in the French cities of Paris and Lyon to support plans to introduce same-sex marriage equality.
The rally was held today, two days before the French Parliament debates a same-sex marriage bill that has divided politicians.
Police initially estimated the total number who attended as 125,000 while organisers claimed that 400,000 people attended. Third parties have suggested that 250,000 people were on the streets to campaign for the change in the law.
Yesterday, Justice Minister Christiane Taubira said changing the law would rectify “a situation of flagrant inequality”. She added: “This bill will protect all families. It will protect children’s rights,” she claimed given the number of children being brought up by at least one gay parent.
Last Sunday’s ‘March for All’ attracted an estimated 340,000 to 800,000 people to the Champs-de-Mars to oppose marriage equality. The organisers were handed a €100,000 bill to clean up the area by the city’s gay mayor.
The anti-equal marriage movement in France, which organised the rally, hoped to bring out 200,000 demonstrators, and found an unlikely leader in a comedian who denied that she was anti-gay.
When he approved the bill, the same day that three US states – Maine, Maryland and Washington – legalised equal marriage, President Hollande told his cabinet that it would mean “progress not only for individuals but for the whole of society”.
Polls show a majority of French voters support marriage equality, but it has divided the country’s left and right, with lawmakers from the conservative UMP denouncing the measure.