French anti-equal marriage leader pulls out of rally for fear of violence

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Leader of anti-equal marriage protests, and comedian, Frigide Barjot, has said she has decided not to attend a rally against the recently passed legislation for equal marriage, on Sunday,for fear that protests will turn violent.

Frigide Barjot – real name Virginie Tellene – a born-again Catholic and reactionary comedian, brought together various Christian, conservative, and far-right groups together to rally against marriage equality earlier this year under the name Manif pour Tous (Demo for All).

She announced on Friday that she would not attend the rally on Sunday. She said she did not want to leave the protesters with a “sense of abandonment”, but that she feared that violence may break out.

Barjot recently lashed out at the French government’s decision to accelerate the progress of the equal marriage bill, implying that protests may become violent.

Organisers of Sunday’s protests claim that over a million French citizens will take to the streets, however the Interior Ministry has estimated the numbers at closer to 200,000.

Police sources have expressed that a much smaller number, 300-500 members of radical far-right factions, may attempt to disrupt the rally, and cause violence.

Barjot has asserted that the Government should replace the equal marriage bill, which allows adoption for same-sex couples, with civil unions legislation, omitting the right to adopt.

Following months of, sometimes violent, protests, and a substantial rise in homophobic attacks, last Friday French President Hollande signed the law, making France the fourteenth country in the world to allow equal marriage.

Marriage equality opponents had hoped that challenging the bill before the Constitutional Council would scupper the bill after months of debate and protest.

However the Council declared: “The law allowing same-sex marriage conforms with the constitution.”

Earlier this week, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was evacuated, after a former far-right activist committed suicide by shooting himself in the head, after writing a blog post slamming France’s recently passed equal marriage bill.