As the country pushes ahead with introducing equal marriage, LGBT campaigners in France have protested over the fear that homophobia and transphobia is on the rise.

On Wednesday, around 5,000 people took part in a demonstration in Paris, with placards saying: “Homophobia kills” and “Our love is stronger than your hate”.

Among them was Wilfred de Bruijn, a Paris librarian who says he and his partner were beaten up while walking arm in arm last weekend.

“I certainly feel there’s been an increase in homophobia,” Mr de Bruijn told AP.

“What [the anti-gay marriage campaign] are saying is that they’re not homophobic: lesbians and gays are nice people, but don’t let them get close to children – that’s very dangerous.

Earlier this week, the French Senate approved the crucial first article of a bill granting same-sex couples the right to marry.

A final vote is expected on Thursday or Friday.

Opinion polls suggest around 55-60% of French people support equal marriage, but only about 50% approve of adoption rights for same-sex couples.

French support for equal marriage has fallen in recent months, possibly in light of the contentious nature of the debate by the opponents.

Elizabeth Ronzier, head of SOS homophobie, said there had been a 30% rise in reports of homophobic and transphobic assaults last year compared to 2011, with a marked surge when debate began in the autumn.

“And in the two months to the end of February this year, we received the same amount of testimonies that we would normally get over a period of six months,” she said.

In March, around 300,000 same-sex marriage opponents took part in a vociferous rally in Paris.