France unmoved by gay marriage protests

2013-01-14 12:00

Paris - France's ruling Socialists refused to back down on Monday, a day after hundreds of thousands marched against plans to legalise gay marriage and adoption, and as opposition politicians stepped up calls for a referendum on the issue.

Despite the massive turn-out in Paris – 800 000 according to organisers, 340 000 according to police - a statement from President Francois Hollande's Elysee Palace after the rally made it clear he would press ahead with the reforms.

The government plans to put the proposed legislation to parliament on 29 January.

"This is a bill that strictly takes nothing away from anyone, which does not do away with the words 'father' and 'mother'...," Justice Minister Christiane Taubira told French television channel TF1 Sunday.

Once again, she ruled out a referendum on the issue, which she argued would in any case be unconstitutional.

But Christian Jacob, head of the centre-right opposition UMP party's parliamentary group, insisted a referendum was perfectly feasible.

"The President of the Republic can at any time decide to submit a question to referendum: I don't think there is any appeal against that," he argued on Sunday.

'Test' for presidency

UMP leader Jean-Francois Cope meanwhile announced a special convention on the issue of the family for 24 January, at which the issue of gay marriage would be discussed.

"This is an important test for Francois Hollande because you can see very clearly that there are millions of French people who are very concerned about this reform," he said.

Cope was among those who took part in Sunday's protest, along with many other senior UMP figures.

Opponents of the bill had travelled from all over France for a demonstration supported by the centre-right opposition, the Catholic Church and France's five-million-strong Muslim community.

Neither the government's apparent determination nor the grim winter weather appeared to dampen the spirits of the protestors. Giant marches converged near the Eiffel Tower having set off from three different starting points.

Many of the protestors were accompanied by children, some of whom brandished placards exclaiming: "Born of a man and a woman."

Jacques Julien, 70, who had travelled from the Haute Loire region of central France, said he had voted for Hollande but disagreed with the Socialist president's approach.

"A man and a woman, that is the basis of the family," he said. "I'm saying out loud what many people on the left think privately."


Despite months of well-attended protests however, opinion polls have shown consistently that most voters support the right of homosexual couples to marry, while a narrower majority favour granting them adoption rights.

Monday's newspapers acknowledged the strength of the protest, even if they differed on how effective it would be.

"The Tidal Wave", read the headline on the front-page lead in the conservative daily Le Figaro. Describing Sunday's protest as "the biggest demonstration in Paris for 30 years" it expressed satisfaction that the right seemed to be rallying behind the call for a referendum on the issue.

Other dailies however, including Le Parisien and the freesheet 20 Minutes, pointed out that however impressive the rally, the government showed no sign of flinching.

  • goyougoodthing - 2013-01-14 12:27

    I would be interested to see who was marching and how many are immigrant families with strict religious dogma. Regardless, this is disgusting.

      fidel.uncensored - 2013-02-19 13:56

      It's democracy at play, far from being disgusting!

  • Peter Zylstra - 2013-01-14 13:26

    dear madam, if such a referendum is unconstitutional then surely the proposed law allowing queers to marry is also unconstitutional besides being unChristian!

      IAmTheDarkPrince - 2013-01-14 13:39

      Stupidity strikes again.

      moeg.malseun - 2013-01-14 14:38

      dumb ass

  • kaapse.skollie.7 - 2013-01-14 13:34

    After banning religious symbols - including crosses, burqas, turbans and yamakas - in public institutions, France wants to legalise gay marriage and adoption. Maybe that's why the zealots are going bonkers. Makes me grateful to be living in SA (for once).

  • christoffvstaden - 2013-01-14 13:41

    Well, well, well... As much as they protest this is going to happen! Make peace with it people, the gay movement is not going to back down just because you consider something to be unchristian or non-muslim. These protestors are in the minority anyway - they shouldn't even be paid attention to. There are bigger issues to deal with then respecting people's superstitions.

  • - 2013-01-14 13:59

    Never understood why people are soo offended by what two other humans do to each-other willingly...

      christoffvstaden - 2013-01-14 14:25

      two or more people do to each other willingly... Yip Jason, it never ceases to amaze me that religious folk think they can interfere in other people's private life and dictate to them what they are allowed to do with their d!ck$. But then again, suppose they got that habit from their peeping-tom god.

  • moeg.malseun - 2013-01-14 14:42

    this is one more step to ,freedom and equality for all, Thank God the world is changing! just wish that those idiots in Uganda would pull there heads out of the sand!!!

  • Russophillia - 2013-01-14 16:54

    The headline should be "French Socialists unmoved by gay marriage protests".

  • nskhokho - 2013-01-26 00:03

    Promotion of homesexuality amang youth is not a gööd thing let's not ful ourself Json and Senzo is not way of life

  • nskhokho - 2013-01-26 00:04

    Promotion of homesexuality amang youth is not a gööd thing let's not ful ourself Json and Senzo is not way of life

  • nskhokho - 2013-01-26 00:04

    Promotion of homesexuality amang youth is not a gööd thing let's not ful ourself Json and Senzo is not way of life

  • marion.jacquet - 2013-02-19 13:51

    Hi just wanted to let you know that this protest wasnt organized by any political party (and certainly not the FN, as their leader refused to come to the march!). It was organized by an apolitical and areligious committee ! (i'm french, trust me, it's the only thing on the news for months now !)

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