France: Thousands take to the streets in support of equal marriage and adoption rights

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Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of Paris on Sunday, in support of the government’s decision to legalise equal marriage and adoption.

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

Demonstrators carried multi-coloured balloons, and banners reading “equal rights are not a threat”, and “the right for all to choose”, demonstrators encouraged Francois Hollande’s government to push forward with the reforms, reported AFP.

The rally’s organisers said that 150,000 people turned up to the Place de la Bastille for the “demonstration for equality,” whilst police estimated 60,000.

Families attended with young children, and some commented on their support for the measure. Arthur, 10, who attended with his eight-year-old sister, Lola, and their mothers, said: “I think marriage is good for everyone!”

Christelle, Arthur’s mother, said she was disappointed that the debate had heated up, and that there had been so much opposition to the government’s plans. She said:

“For the first time our children have experienced homophobia that shocked them,” she said, adding that this only “makes me want to fight even harder for gay marriage”.

As well as Paris, several thousand people demonstrated in Toulouse, and rallies were held in Marseille, Lyon and Nantes on Saturday, in support of the reform.

Organisers have said they will continue to rally as the debate heats up, with the next demonstration date set for 27 January, two days before the bill will be debated in parliament.

Not the first time demonstrators have turned out to support these measures, as back in November, thousands of demonstrators turned up to rally at the National Assembly in Paris to show support for the bill.

Just over a week later, thousands more took to the streets of several French cities to protest against moves to allow equal marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples. At the really in Toulouse, police were forced to use tear gas against anti-gay protesters in order to separate them from demonstrators supporting marriage equality.

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

The date for the next rally against the legislation has been set for 13 January.

Despite some opposition to the bill, which was brought in by President Hollande’s Socialist government, the party holds a strong majority, and the legislation is expected to pass.

On Saturday, a national poll by IFOP, suggested that 60% of the population were in favour of legalising marriage equality, and 46% were in favour of gay couples being able to adopt.

Also on Sunday, gay rights campaigners held a protest near St Peter’s Square, Vatican, on Sunday, during the Pope’s weekly prayers, after he said that legalising marriage equality “threatened the institute of marriage”.