PARIS — Just over a week after French President Francois Hollande signed a bill into law legalizing homosexual marriage and adoption in the country, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets on Sunday to show their opposition.
While reports state that approximately 150,000 people filled the streets of Paris to stand for marriage as being between a man and a woman, organizers estimate that turnout was closer to 1 million.
“This is just the beginning of a program of legislation to impose the socialist ideology of one gender and to destroy the foundations of the family,” stated one demonstrator.
A number of the protesters held banners as they marched, such as “no to a change of civilization” and “Hollande resign.” Some of those present stated that they were ashamed that they had ever voted for Hollande after realizing that he supported changing the definition of marriage. Reports state that one protester led a donkey through the streets to express how foolish he felt over his vote.
An estimated 4,500 police were placed on duty for the demonstration, which turned violent at times as all different types of groups were represented in the march. Some protesters reportedly threw rocks and smoke bombs at the police, who then released tear gas on the crowds. One photograph showed a police officer kicking a man who lay on the ground, and another captured police carrying away a woman in high heels who had joined the demonstration.
In all, approximately 100 protesters were arrested on Sunday — some over the clashes with police and others over their refusal to move when asked. However, as demonstrations continued today, the number is stated to have risen to 293.
Similar protests have occurred throughout the year. As previously reported, in January, an estimated 340,000 citizens marched near the Eiffel Tower, many of which waved pink or blue flags that contained a graphic of a mother and father with two children. Other signs read, “marriagophile, not homophobe,” “all born of a father and mother” and “paternity, maternity, equality.”
According to reports, many of France’s citizens are concerned about the implications of homosexual “marriage,” including adoption and assisted procreation. They state that the interest of protecting children trumps the desire of others to create their own version of marriage. Reuters notes that Frenchmen “defend their customs strongly and try to balance personal freedoms against what they think is best for society.”
“The French are tolerant, but they are deeply attached to the family and the defense of children,” Daniel Liechti, vice-president of the National Council of French Evangelicals, told reporters.
“This law is going to lead to a change of civilization that we don’t want,” said resident Philippe Javaloyes, a literary teacher in France. “[W]e think that a child must grow up with a mother and a father.”
Christians, Catholics, Muslims and others groups have all been a part of the demonstrations. The current event is stated to possibly be the last.