France: 200,000 expected for anti-equal marriage rally
Hundreds of thousands are expected to turn out today in Paris to protest against the recently signed law, which allows equal marriage and adoption for same-sex couples.
Organisers of today’s protests claimed that over a million French citizens would take to the streets, however the Interior Ministry has estimated the numbers at closer to 200,000.
Police sources have expressed that a much smaller number, 300-500 members of radical far-right factions, may attempt to disrupt the rally, and cause violence.
Thousands of police took to the streets of Paris in preparation for the rally, which takes place ahead of the first same-sex wedding, which is to take place in Montpellier, known as the “French San Francisco”, because of its large gay community, on 29 May.
On Saturday evening, 50 people were arrested, and a van carrying masks, banners and smoke bombs was seized by French police. Those arrested had chained themselves to a barrier in the middle of the Champs Elysees.
Frigide Barjot – real name Virginie Tellene – a born-again Catholic and reactionary comedian, brought together various Christian, conservative, and far-right groups together to rally against marriage equality earlier this year under the name Manif pour Tous (Demo for All).
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Barjot has asserted that the Government should replace the equal marriage bill, which allows adoption for same-sex couples, with civil unions legislation, omitting the right to adopt.
Following months of, sometimes violent, protests, and a substantial rise in homophobic attacks, last Friday French President Hollande signed the law, making France the fourteenth country in the world to allow equal marriage.
Marriage equality opponents had hoped that challenging the bill before the Constitutional Council would scupper the bill after months of debate and protest.
Earlier this week, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was evacuated, after a former far-right activist committed suicide by shooting himself in the head, after writing a blog post slamming France’s recently passed equal marriage bill.
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