London, Jan 14: Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of Paris over plans to give gay couples in France the right to marry and adopt children.
Three big marches converged on the Champs de Mars, a large park next to the Eiffel Tower.
France’s Socialist government is planning to change the law this year, but the demonstrators, backed by the Catholic Church and the right-wing opposition, have argued that it would undermine an essential building block of society, the BBC reports.
According to the report, the organizers put the number of marchers at 800,000, with demonstrators pouring into Paris by train and bus, carrying placards reading ‘We don’t want your law, Francois’ and ‘Don’t touch my civil code’.
Police said the figure was closer to 340,000 and one government minister said the turnout was lower than the organizers had predicted, the report said.
The ‘Demo for all’ event was being led by a charismatic comedian known as Frigide Barjot, who tweeted that the ‘crowd is immense’ and told French TV that gay marriage ‘makes no sense’ because a child should be born to a man and woman, the report said.
Although France allows civil unions between same-sex couples, Francois Hollande made a pledge to extend their rights part of his presidential campaign, the report said.
The far-right National Front is also opposed to the change, although its leader Marine Le Pen stayed away from the march, arguing the issue was a diversion by politicians from France’s real problems.
Despite the support of the Church and political right, the organizers stressed their movement is non-political and non-religious, and in no way directed against homosexuals, BBC Paris correspondent Hugh Schofield reports.
The women from feminist group Femen appeared topless, while Pope Benedict recited his traditional Angelus prayer, the report added. (ANI)