French gay marriage opponent kills himself at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris
An 78-year-old French far-right activist committed suicide at the altar of the Notre Dame cathedral on Tuesday by shooting himself in the mouth, three days after a law legalizing same-sex marriage came into effect.
Police evacuated the cathedral, one of Paris’ biggest tourist draws, after Dominique Venner – a historian known for his hard-right political essays and a fierce opponent of gay marriage – shot himself, sending tourists fleeing in panic.
Venner made no declaration as he shot himself around mid-afternoon, a police source said. He carried a letter on his person, but its contents were not released to the media.
A May 21 entry on his blog page appealed to readers to join a march planned for Sunday against the Socialist government’s gay-marriage law, which came into force at the weekend.
President Francois Hollande made good on a campaign pledge by making France the 14th country to allow same-sex weddings. The country’s biggest social reform in three decades is backed by a small majority of French, surveys show.
Yet the move stirred up a storm of opposition among social conservatives and Catholics who have hosted a series of angry and often violent protests.