French gay marriage opponents stage another big Paris protest march

May 26, 2013

(People wave flags at the Esplanade des Invalides as they attend a protest march called, “La Manif pour Tous” (Demonstration for All) against France’s legalisation of same-sex marriage, in Paris, May 26, 2013. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe)

Several hundred thousand opponents of same-sex marriage marched in central Paris on Sunday against a reform the unpopular French government passed last month at the price of deepening political polarization.

Large park grounds around Les Invalides monument were full of protesters waving pink and blue flags, while far-right activists hung a banner on the ruling Socialist Party headquarters urging President Francois Hollande to quit.

The protests, which began as a grass roots campaign strongly backed by the Roman Catholic Church, have morphed into a wider movement with opposition politicians and far-right militants airing their discontent with Hollande.

Although they have failed to block gay marriage, the protesters hope their renewed show of force will help stop or slow down further laws some Socialists want allowing assisted procreation and surrogate motherhood for gay couples.

Jean-Francois Cope, leader of the opposition UMP party, marched in the demonstration and urged young protesters to join his party to keep up pressure on the left-wing government.

“The next rendez-vous should be at the ballot boxes for the municipal elections,” he said, referring to local polls due next year where conservatives hope to profit from the protest movement’s unexpectedly strong mobilization.

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