France: Plans for anti-same-sex marriage Champs Elysees march refused by police

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

French police have refused permission for a mass anti-equal marriage march to take place on Paris’ Champs Elysees, saying it would be an “impossibility” to hold the event on the historic street.

On 12 February the French “Marriage for All” bill, which would allow for marriage between couples of any sex, was adopted 329 votes to 229, and 10 ministers abstained. The bill will now go to France’s Sénat on 2 April.

The bill has divided public opinion in France, with large turnouts at protests both for and against the bill.

Equal marriage opponents had been planning a march which promised to be one of the largest yet. Organisers hoped to be able to march down the Champs Elysees, one of the most famous landmarks in Paris, on March 24, showing their opposition to the Marriage for All bill.

However, France24 reports that police have turned down the plans, saying they were an “impossibility” due to the Champs Elysees’ proximity to the Elysee Palace, where the French President has his official residence.

An official police statement said that organisers had been invited to meet the Chief of Police to discuss taking a different route, but had  not taken up the offer in time.

Virginie Tellene, a comedian and one of the anti-equality march organisers, said: “We want a symbolic place that will allow the French public and the government to see that we exist en masse. We’re going to continue talking to find a solution.”

Police may be concerned as a previous anti-equal marriage march angered the Mayor of Paris and left a considerable clean-up bill for the event’s organisers, after marchers trampled a historic green space.

January’s ‘March for All’ attracted an estimated 340,000 to 800,000 people to the Champs-de-Mars. The march was held to oppose legislation giving marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples in France.

Mayor Bertrand Delanoe then issued the organisers of the march with the heavy invoice of €100,000 (£83,000) in order to cover costs of restoring the grass on the Champs-de-Mars, a large public green near the Eiffel Tower.