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France: Eleventh hour anti-equal marriage protests expected

April 21, 2013

Demonstrations against the predicted passing of France’s equal marriage bill are expected to take place today in what is likely to be the last mass protest ahead of the National Assembly’s final vote.

France24 reports that potentially “tens of thousands” of people could stage an anti-equal marriage protest today in Paris.

“We only have a few days left, we are not going to abandon the street,” said protest organiser Alberic Dumont.

The crowds will be demonstrating against legislation allowing same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples, which, it is predicted, will be approved by the National Assembly this Tuesday.

Supporters of the bill have also planned a counter-demonstration, but the scale of the pro-equality movement has been greatly overshadowed by the opposition.

Former National Front leader Jean-Marie Le Pen said the size and fervor of the opposition movement had been “exceptional”.

“It is normal that people demonstrate against a bill they oppose, but it’s a surprising phenomenon, including for people in power, to see that [the demonstrations] concern hundreds of thousands of people,” he said. “It’s quite exceptional.”

On Friday, the lower house of French National Assembly almost mirrored violent protests outside, around the issue of equal marriage, as MPs came to the end of the capped 25-hour debate around the bill which would allow equal marriage, and same sex couples the right to adopt.

Punches were reportedly thrown in the scuffle, which lasted several minutes, whilst ministers shouted “out”, “out”. One minister said he had never experienced such an incident in his 30 years in the lower house.

The final, and decisive vote on the bill is expected to take place on Tuesday 23 April, and if it passes the vote, it will go to the Constitutional Council, which will review its constitutionality. If it is passed by the council, it will be signed into law by President Francois Hollande before being published in the Official Journal of the French Republic. 

As the National Assembly hearing began four men were detained after they attacked a gay bar in Lille, injuring the manager and causing property damage.

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, this week called for calm as violent protests marred the start of the National Assembly’s fast tracked final debate on the marriage equality bill.

President Hollande also condemned the “homophobic” violence in France, as well as Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who warned that the movement opposed to equal marriage was being infiltrated by far-right organisations.

More: adoption, equal marriage, Europe, France, France, gay marriage, gay wedding, lesbian marriage, lesbian wedding, manif pour tous, marriage, marriage equality, Paris, protest, same sex marriage, Same-sex wedding, wedding

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