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France: Thousands protest gay marriage bill over weekend

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI – Back-to-back protests against the French government's push to legalize gay marriage drew thousands onto the streets of Paris and other cities over the weekend, France24 reports.

Thousands representing the Catholic faith, other backers of so-called traditional family rights and the political right turned out Nov 17 and 18 across France to register their opposition to same-sex marriage and adoption that François Hollande's Socialist government has been championing. 

Among the protesters' banners was one that read "France needs children, not homosexuals."

During the Nov 18 protest organized by the Catholic group Civitas, about a dozen topless activists from the Ukrainian-based women's movement Femen showed up dressed as nuns and chanted "humorous" slogans, according to the report. The words "In Gay We Trust" were written across their chests, The Huffington Post notes.

Some of the protesters ran at the activists, "raging," according to one eyewitness, who says the women were sheltered in a police wagon for their safety. Protesters also lashed out at journalists fiming the scene, with several photographers reportedly "roughed up."

The French Socialist party's first secretary, Harlem Désir, called the demonstrators' aggression "stupid," the Herald Sun reports. 

Civitas spokesperson Alain Escada is quoted as saying that the protesters' objective was to "wage a real battle to protect the family and child." Another protester says children "cannot flourish normally without a father and a mother; it's against nature."

Social Affairs minister Marisol Touraine says that while she respected protesters' concerns, the government was not scrapping its bill, which is set for debate in the National Assembly Jan 29.  


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