France: Scuffles with police ensue as 300,000 march against marriage equality

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Hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets of Paris today to protest against the likely legalisation of same-sex marriage, with scuffles breaking out after crowds tried to take an unauthorised route on the Champs Elysees.

The march was organised by French anti-marriage equality group Manif Pour Tous, who also arranged today’s protest in Trafalgar Square.

The London event attracted an estimated 2000 protesters and counter-protesters, dwarfed by police estimates of 300,000 protesters at the Paris march. Manif Pour Tous said that the figure was even higher, claiming 1.2 million were present.

The French National Assembly passed a same-sex marriage bill in February, and it is due to go to the next step of the lawmaking process in the Sénat on 2 April.

Some marchers chanted for French President Francois Hollande to resign. Banners at the march read “We want work not gay marriage,” and “No to gayxtremism”.

“We want the president to deal with the economy and leave the family alone,” said Virginie Tellenne, one of France’s anti-marriage equality figureheads, who often goes by the name Frigide Bardot (‘Frigid Loony’).

Manif Pour Tous had hoped to stage the Paris protest along the Champs Elysees, but were refused permission to march on the historic street.

Around one to two hundred of the marchers attempted to defy the ban and break through police to reach the Champs Elysees. Police used tear gas on crowds in an attempt to hold them back, but some managed to reach the road.

According to police two protesters were arrested. No injuries were reported.

A similar march in January rallied an estimated 400,000 people, but earned organisers a €100,000 bill to clean up the area by the city’s gay mayor.