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Protesters Crowd Streets of Paris Ahead of Final French Vote on Marriage Equality: VIDEO


Anti-gay protesters crowded the streets of Paris today ahead of a French parliament vote on Tuesday in which it is expected to adopt marriage equality, Deutsche Welle reports:

Protest organizers said between 30,000 and 50,000 people took part in the demonstration in the Montparnasse area of Paris on Sunday. A rival protest in support of the legislation was also held on Sunday but gathered fewer participants.

Two thousand security officers were on hand to ensure the throngs remained peaceful after demonstrations earlier in the week led to a bit of violence.

Protests were held three nights running, from Wednesday to Friday, and some of the hard-core opponents clashed with police. More than 100 arrests were made throughout the week.

Watch a Euronews report, AFTER THE JUMP...

AFP adds:

In a series of guerrilla actions, activists opposed to the bill have staged dawn protests outside ministers’ homes, vandalised cars, assaulted journalists and even blocked a fast train carrying a prominent gay marriage campaigner. One Socialist MP received death threats, and there are reports that two attacks on gay bars, one in Bordeaux and the other in Lille, were linked to rising anti-gay sentiment fed by the protests. So why the explosive outrage in the land of liberty, fraternity and equality?

Some argue that it is simply part of a wider backlash against what is seen as a corrupt, incompetent political class, prompted by Mr Hollande’s inability to tackle unemployment and the discovery that the government’s tax tsar had a secret Swiss bank account.

But the French Right has seized on the gay marriage issue to rally its demoralised electorate. Given the mess that Mr Hollande’s Socialist administration is making of the economy, Right wingers argue, the Left has no right to legislate on moral issues as well.

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  1. Va te faire foutre les homophobes!

    Posted by: Jeff | Apr 21, 2013 2:22:35 PM

  2. For once spain was way ahead of france, not only for legalize gay marriage 8 years before, but because even our right behave way better.
    There was outrage, loud mouthed bishops, and over the top predictions, but there were not gay bashings on the streets and no climate of hatred.
    For being the land of egalite and fraternite, the behaviour was a big big dissapointment.
    I always predicted that they overcome the situation as fast as it happened in Spain but i'm not that sure

    Posted by: jjose712 | Apr 21, 2013 2:29:21 PM

  3. Granted, I haven't been in France for a decade, but the French being slow and backwards on gay rights unfortunately doesn't shock me. The French seemed very closeted to me.

    That said, the Towleroad French lessons video and the shirtless French gay guy video were both adorable and heartening.

    Posted by: Just_a_guy | Apr 21, 2013 2:38:10 PM

  4. The last paragraph is key and explains one of the differences with Spain.
    In both countries, the right-wing tried to turn it into a political weapon against the left-wing government. Except that Zapatero's government was popular when they passed SSM whereas Hollande is hideously unpopular.

    And as far as gay bashing and violence goes, two things:
    1) Let's not overstate the extent to which these things are happening. A handful of well-publicized incidents at a delicate tension-filled time do not a trend make.
    2) France's political history has always been one of the most violent of the Western world. It is not unheard of for things to easily become mass demonstrations and violent acts there.

    The whole thing has been particularly ugly and disappointing but ultimately the process will unfold just like it unfolded in every other country that passed SSM and people will not care in a couple of years. And let's remember that even after SSM was politicized and so much noise has been made by the antis, every single poll still show SSM support at 60% (SS adoption is what suffered in the polls but still 50-50)

    Posted by: titbug | Apr 21, 2013 2:39:47 PM

  5. It does indeed seem like alot has changed in France over the past many years, and not for the better. Sad.

    Posted by: Tom | Apr 21, 2013 2:40:45 PM

  6. @Just a guy

    Can you spare us the offensive comment about the French?
    The opposition has been more vocal there than in other countries and yet polls still show more support for SSM there than here - even now.
    So spare me

    Posted by: titbug | Apr 21, 2013 2:41:50 PM

  7. In a country where you're considered odd if you don't have extramarital affairs, I can't believe there's such resistance to same-sex marriage.

    Posted by: Gigi | Apr 21, 2013 2:53:50 PM

  8. Interesting to see the French have chosen to develop a backbone protesting a human right like marriage equality considering these sniveling cowards rolled over and screamed Uncle in 2nd WW. They'd be speaking Russian if it weren't for the Free World. You owe us your support Frogs and we expect it now.

    Posted by: jim | Apr 21, 2013 3:00:05 PM

  9. @ Jim

    They'd be speaking Russian. What kind of run-down History lessons have you gotten? If you are going to be insulting the French, get your anti-French talking point right. They'd be speaking *German* is the insult. The USSR never was involved in trying to invade France.

    @ Gigi
    Those are the same right-wing people who deserted Sarkozy after his highprofile divorce and remarriage. Again, a vocal conservative minority does not equal the "French". A large majority of French do not care about extramarital affairs and do not care about SSM. Those people are vocal and active. They are not a whole country.

    Posted by: titbug | Apr 21, 2013 3:02:57 PM

  10. @ Jim

    They'd be speaking Russian. What kind of run-down History lessons have you gotten? If you are going to be insulting the French, get your anti-French talking point right. They'd be speaking *German* is the insult. The USSR never was involved in trying to invade France.

    @ Gigi
    Those are the same right-wing people who deserted Sarkozy after his highprofile divorce and remarriage. Again, a vocal conservative minority does not equal the "French". A large majority of French do not care about extramarital affairs and do not care about SSM. Those people are vocal and active. They are not a whole country.

    Posted by: titbug | Apr 21, 2013 3:02:57 PM

  11. Sorrt "titbug"( nice nickname for GED scholar like yourself). The rest of the Cold War ( lesson cones after 8th grade- that was the US and USSR conflict which almost led to WW3) the only thing that stopped Stalin and Khrushchev from overrunning Western Europe ( which includes the brave and moral French) was us. Merely making a point about how its their time to pay it forward instead of regress. Ps- start drinking decaf your Tourettes is kicking in as your message posted 2x

    Posted by: jim | Apr 21, 2013 3:11:04 PM

  12. Jim, if it hadn't been for French efforts during WW1, YOU would be speaking German right now and would likely be nothing but a colony.

    Step aside and let actual discussion take place.

    Posted by: GCS | Apr 21, 2013 3:46:50 PM

  13. The French has the nuclear weapon. The USSR wasn't going to invade France. There was literally not ever talk of this happening.
    This is idiotic. The anti-French insult is the German one. Yes, the US helped liberate France from the Germans. From USSR? Not so much
    Anyway, may I say, all this is completely unrelated to our current conversation.
    My point was: the cheap insults against the French and the hideousness of these very vocal protests should not mask the fact that support for SSM in French poll has stayed steady at 60-65%. Not worthy of painting the French as an intolerant nest of homophobes because of a few whackjobs

    Posted by: titbug | Apr 21, 2013 3:59:43 PM

  14. titbug; You are probably right, whe SSM passed in Spain, the economics were very different, there were a lot of protest including some ex ministers, but it wasn't as violent as in France.
    In time of crisis there's always a rise on xenophobia and hatred against minorities, and i think that can influence the level of protest.
    And you are probably right, in a couple of years, some of the protesters would feel shame of their actions, and most people will not care at all about SSM.
    At least, that's what i hope

    Posted by: jjose712 | Apr 21, 2013 4:08:03 PM

  15. Let's keep focused; the enemies of equal rights are the homophobes and the religions which are still in the Middle Ages......not the French.

    As for WWII, give me a break; we can all quote this or that war, atrocity, etc. as a stick to beat another side.
    Our work is to advance equal esteem for all gays in all societies in the face of the extreme right wing religious zealots who are and will push back against us.
    Insulting the French is childish.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Apr 21, 2013 4:20:32 PM

  16. Re: "Right wingers argue, the Left has no right to legislate on moral issues as well."

    So the Right has the right to do this by denying égalité?

    Posted by: Rexford | Apr 21, 2013 4:48:48 PM

  17. I'm with Jose, in that I want to be hopeful. In fact, I am--cautiously. As for my above properly-couched comment about my experience in France, I don't see it as me insulting the French.

    Instead, I'm just saying, French people: The world is watching. Will you make us proud?

    What's more, why NOT casually comment on French cultural development amidst the gay rights movement? See also Scott Gunther's "The Elastic Closet, A History of Homosexuality inFrance, 1942 to present" (2009, ch. 4).

    Also, are a weird percent of gay bars in Paris still unmarked? I never really understood that.

    Posted by: just_a_guy | Apr 21, 2013 4:50:34 PM

  18. Looks like French gays are getting a nasty dose of the same rightwing poison that we American gays have endured for the last, oh, thirty years or so. Apparently hate is the only political motivator on the right. Blacks, gays, now Muslims--we're all raw material to be chewed up in the rightwing political machine. The rightwing stands for nothing, believes nothing, values nothing--except power. They lust after it and will try to get it by any means that works. The American right has poisoned American society and paralyzed American political life. How sad to see it happening in France.

    Posted by: Jim | Apr 21, 2013 4:57:58 PM

  19. In addition to the obvious corrections that titbug has made to Jim's anti-French rants, I'm also not sure what he means by "pay it forward". Because the US supposedly rescued France from communism or something, France is supposed to repay the favor by supporting gay marriage? Last time I checked, DOMA was still the law of the land in the US, so how would France's support for gay marriage reward the US? Or are you saying that it was just the gays in America that "rescued" France? that would at least be consistent with your call for France to pay it forward, but would be as factually incorrect as all your other statements.

    Posted by: Brian | Apr 21, 2013 5:00:19 PM

  20. Aww poor victims getting their feelings hurt again. Peace out public schoolers. Learn both history and perspective and stick up for yourselves once in awhile.

    Posted by: jim | Apr 21, 2013 5:10:05 PM

  21. Face it, a vocal, reactionary segment of the french population is as fascist-loving as WW2-era Germany. Remember, they quickly dispatched their jews to concentration camps with little remorse. Meanwhile, there are lots of demented Eastern block refugees and expats in Paris (just like in Sacramento, frankly) who have decided to replace jews, gypsies and Poles (or whatever their neighbor is) with gays to scapegoat and discriminate against (and eventually kill). And the catholic church is clearly still pissed about everything that knocked themselves out of #2 status (after the aristocracy) and want it all back -- in France and everywhere else. Then there are the millions of Muslims, esp. in southern France, who can get really empowered with these mobs ("hey, we're just like you, we want to kill the gays and take their stuff, too.Let's march about it over some Moroccan coffee, mon ami").

    Posted by: Mz | Apr 21, 2013 5:36:10 PM

  22. It goes to shows where some of these people priority lies when it comes to political and social issues. They might be the generations of those who kept themselves quiet when the Nazis roll over the country a few decades ago. A character consistent with cowards.

    Posted by: bambinoitaliano | Apr 21, 2013 5:51:19 PM

  23. The situation in France is very delicate and indeed concerning. As to why it is happening it is difficult to say as there are a number of factors.

    Both Spain and Portugal have recent lengthy periods of dictatorship. They are therefore very proud of their democratic parliamentary heritage and more likely to accept the law once passed.

    French 'hard right' thinking is difficult to appreciate if you've never lived there and goes back a long time (Louise de Bonald, Joseph de Maistre and others, around the time of the Revolution). There are many hard right networks and groups - catholic, royalist and so on. This is not much appreciated outside France.

    The key thing is that Parliament has voted by a clear majority and carried the law. To continue to use disruption in the streets against the law is an attempt to impede parliamentary democracy and it is therefore very worrying to see the maistream parties of the right encourage these developments.

    I think the government made some timing mistakes. Had they moved very quickly to legislate having won the elections last year it would have been less painful.

    Another aspect is doing adoption at the same time as marriage. Freudian theories are much more widely accepted in France - for a lot of people they fear a child's head will explode if they don't get to go through an oedepal stage of development (I'm exaggerating a little, bit not much).

    In many countries adoption and marriage were dealt with separately. The UK has had adoption rights for sme sex couples for some time, but not marriage (yet) and there are countries with marriage equality but no adoption.

    A further element is the French have this thing called 'filiation' which has tended to be a very biological thing (though of course not in the case of people adopting). If you listen to the parliamentary debates the word filiation comes up again and again. Anglo Saxon countries tend to refer to 'parenting' rather than getting hung up on 'filiation'.

    Finally the right wing UMP is very split over which person is leading them between two candidates and unifying around this questions seems to have calmed their internal troubles.

    My guess is that the current government should just proceed with the law (it has just one day of parliamentary debate left) and it will be well accepted in a few years, once people get used to it. The question is if the right come to power again will they reverse the law? My guess is not, though they are currently saying they would. My guess is they would make small changes - I could be wrong.

    A final question is whether the Manif pour tous goes on - currently they are saying they will stand canidates in the mayoral elections in 2014. If that happened and they won my guess is they would try to block application of the law (all marriages are done by the mayor or their representative in France) in their locality if elected. If thy carried on demonstrating I'd guess their numbers would continually decrease but not without spreading a lot of hate in French society and the connections with hard groups coming to the fore. Could be interesting if they competed in the next legilative elections, however (this has the potential for a French Tea Party).

    [Sorry for long post]

    Posted by: Craig Nelson | Apr 21, 2013 6:42:03 PM

  24. I stand by everything you said Craig except the speculation about their candidate in mayoral elections.
    There won't be any mayors elected from them. None. Whatsoever.
    Mark my words. I doubt they will even cross the threshold to have elected officials in any city. French people take mayoral elections very seriously. They ain't gonna vote for a mayor based on one single - national - issue - that will already be old news by then on top of that. Frijide Barjot can see her five minutes of fame dying down since the bill will pas next week and want to extend it. There is nothing more to it.
    People who are against SSM already have viable options on the right-wing that ALSO have serious programs for their respective cities. The idea they would vote for candidates whose only program is hatred against the SSM is ludicrous.
    Not to mention that this conservative vocal minority isn't exactly a very urban constituency

    Posted by: titbug | Apr 21, 2013 6:48:58 PM

  25. The article seems to make a connection between the demonstrations and violence against same-sex marriage and the poor performance of the French economy under the present government. Perhaps the right is trying to use ssm as a way / an excuse for citizens to "let off some steam" about other issues? Maybe I didn't understand the article correctly...

    Posted by: | Apr 21, 2013 6:49:09 PM

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