More than half a million French people turned out for a massive demonstration against the legalization of homosexual marriage and child adoption yesterday as a small group of protesters—numbered at around 200—engaged in running battles with the police in the heart of Paris.
The event, which took place on the Les Invalides square on Sunday, was in protest against the same-sex marriage bill signed into law by President Francois Hollande.
According to reports, 4,500 riot police were dispatched to handle the crowd, and numerous arrests were made, mostly for the use of teargas and fireworks.
The more militant protestors were dragged off by police after refusing to disperse, and were cheered on by many other protestors and passers-by.
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayraul warned politicians in favor of the mass demonstration, reminding them of “a heavy responsibility” taken by “sparking tension and radicalization.”
Priests in long cassocks observed the battles without attempting to intervene. Other, more peaceful demonstrators stood in lines or circles nearby holding hands, praying and singing as tear gas and red smoke from flares swirled around them.
Twenty members of the “Génération Identitaire” group clambered on to the roof terrace of the headquarters of the Socialist party during the afternoon and unfurled a banner calling for the resignation of President François Hollande. They were dislodged and arrested by police.
Many of the banners and signs in the protests underlined the huge crowd’s feelings about the law. The largest of the marches, starting in the well-heeled 16th arrondissement of Paris, was led by a 30ft-wide banner that proclaimed: “No to a change of civilization.”
The marchers insist that the real damage will come not from gay marriage but from allowing same-sex couples to adopt.
This, they say, will trample the fundamental principle that every child should have a mother and a father. It will also, they insist, blur or destroy the concept of “filiation” or parental origins and lead to a shallow, rootless, immoral society.
As a result, many slogans appeared to complain about adoption or single-parent families as much as against gay marriage. “No, to the anonymity of origins” said one large banner held by 20 people.
A banner reads: A Mother and a father: the best thing for a child.