France: Thousands protest against equal marriage and adoption rights for gay couples

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Thousands of people have taken to the streets of several French cities to protest against the country’s recently approved bill which would allow equal marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples.

Authorities reported that on Saturday evening, around 70,000 people took to the streets of Paris to protest, as well as demonstrations taking place in the cities of Toulouse, Lyon and Marseille, the BBC reported. 

Other reports have suggested that over 100,000 people nationwide attended the protests, and that protesters carried pink and blue balloons, and rallied under signs saying, “pro-marriage, not ant-gay.”

On 7 November, French President Francois Hollande’s government approved a bill to legalise equal marriage and allow gay couples to adopt.

Yesterday’s protest included members of the Catholic church, as well as other advocates of “traditional” marriage and family rights.

“A child needs a father and a mother, he needs the paternal and the maternal side and with this bill that might not be possible any more,” said Marthe Vignault, who attended the protest.

“That’s the way it is and we can’t go against nature,” she continued.

When he approved the bill, the same day that three US states – MaineMaryland 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.

The President had previously conceded that the religious opponents of his equal marriage plans were proving to be “tough” to deal with.

Earlier in November, thousands of pro-equality demonstrators turned up to rally at the National Assembly in Paris, to show support for equal marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples.

Saturday also saw pro-equal rights campaigners take to the streets to counter-protest.

The reform, opposed by more than 1,000 mayors and France’s Catholic Church, will be debated by parliament in January 2013.