Mass protest in Paris against gay marriage law

Tens-of-thousands of people have marched in Paris against a new French law allowing same-sex marriage.



The law was introduced in mid-May after months of heated debate.


The issue has sparked some of the largest protests France has seen in decades.


Biwa Kwan reports.


French police estimate that up to 150,000 people joined four demonstrations in Paris that converged on the city centre.


Organisers put the figure close to one-million.


The rallies were largely peaceful, but police say towards the end of the rally up to 500 protesters began attacking them by throwing metal barriers, smoke flares and beer bottles.


The police responded by firing tear gas and made dozens of arrests.


The French government says any disturbances at gay weddings set to take place in the days ahead will be unacceptable.


But opponents of the law say even though the bill has been signed into law they will continue to fight against it.


“(French then English) What seems the most natural to me is that a child should have a father and a mother…For me, it’s important to not give up and to show that it’s families and the rights of the children that are important there shouldn’t be any more than this law.”


France’s Opposition Leader Jean-François Copé was at the protest rally.


He says the protesters hope to stop or slow down further laws, for example to give gay couples access to assisted reproductive technology.


“(French then English) This is not about revoking the law. This is about rewriting it because there are some topics we would like to discuss again. Such as the question of assisted reproductive technology and surrogacy for example.”


Other protesters at the rally were critical of French President Francois Hollande’s decision to prioritise gay marriage during his first year in office, saying there were more pressing issues.


“(French then English)I think this law against families is a big diversion. The government should be preoccupied with other things. We have a big problem with crime. Paris has become a den of thieves. Our country keeps getting worse. And we’re worried about the future of our children.”


A total of 14 nations have now fully legalised same-sex marriage.


Some nations perform civil unions and others have not legalised it but recognise marriages from other countries.


Australia has neither legalised same-sex marriage nor recognised any same-sex marriages performed overseas.


A vote on the issue in federal parliament late last year was defeated, but advocates hope a new vote brought by the Greens next month will pass when it comes before the House of Representatives.


In recent weeks, a number of federal politicians have said they have changed their minds and now support the proposal.


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