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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 21, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 51
Huge crowds march in France to demand marriage equality
Section One
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Huge crowds march in France to demand marriage equality

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Huge crowds marched in most French cities on December 15, demanding that President Francois Hollande make good on his campaign promise to legalize Gay and Lesbian marriages.

The demonstrations were a response to concerns that Hollande's Socialist government might back down in the face of anti-equality marches organized by right-wing parties and the Catholic Church in November.

CONFLICTING REPORTS
The British newspaper The Guardian reported that the pro-equality crowds were smaller than the 100,000 anti-Gay marchers who turned out last month, but Gay Star News estimated some 150,000 pro-equality demonstrators in Paris alone.

According to France 24 News, marchers in Paris gathered in the Place de la Bastille in the center of the city, carrying banners saying 'The Right for All to Choose,' 'Love Has No Barriers,' and 'Talk About Love.' Rallies were also held in several other French cities including Toulouse, Marseille, Lyon, and Nantes.

French Families Minister Dominique Bertinotti said the marches were 'a very good thing.'

She claimed that many of the law's opponents are 'the same people who were against divorce, against contraception, against abortion, against [civil unions], and they are the same who were against the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1981.'

OPPONENTS PROVOKED DEMOS
LGBT activists said they had not planned to hold nationwide demonstrations until last month, when equality opponents staged their march.

The French parliament is set to debate the proposed marriage equality law on January 29, two days after a second pro-equality demonstration planned for 27 January.

Although the bill has faced fierce opposition from right-wing traditionalists and Catholic groups, Hollande's Socialists currently hold a large majority in parliament, and the UMP, the main conservative party, is in disarray after a bitterly contested leadership election.

A nationwide poll by firm IFOP on December 15 shows marriage equality is backed by 60% of respondents, with 46% supporting the right of same-sex couples to adopt.

DUELING EDITORIALS
Even the Catholic weekly Témoignage Chrétien recently endorsed marriage equality, earning a rebuke by the Vatican's newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano.

'It is upsetting because in taking this position, the most banal politically correct arguments were used,' the Vatican paper said, adding: 'Being Catholic is about much more than embracing fashionable cultural standpoints.'

Marriage equality got extra publicity when Hollande's partner, Valerie Trierweiler, announced on December 4 that she had accepted an invitation from Gay friends to be a witness at their wedding when the law passes.

She said she would be delighted to have a role at one of the very first Gay marriages in France.

Hollande has been partnered with Trierweiler since separating from his previous partner, Ségolène Royal, in 2007, just after Royal lost her bid to be elected president of France. Trierweiler is a reporter for Paris Match magazine.

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