In the wake of Sunday’s last-ditch demonstration in Paris against a new French law legalising same-sex marriage and adoption, protest organisers and participants already had their sights set on future battles.
As workers diligently set about clearing the stage from a last-ditch demonstration in Paris against a recent French law legalising same-sex marriage and adoption on Sunday evening, protest organisers and participants already had their minds geared towards how to keep their movement alive.
Staged by the organisation Manif Pour Tous, or a demonstration for everyone, hundreds of thousands of people converged on the capital’s central Invalides monument to evince their undiminished opposition to the new measure, which was signed into law by President François Hollande earlier this month.
Some protesters brandished signs that read “Made in Mama + Papa,” while others waved pink and blue flags.
Despite the fact there is little chance the legislation on same-sex marriage and adoption will ever be repealed, Marie-Camille Richard, deputy communications director of Manif Pour Tous, told FRANCE 24, “[The] message is that we’re not letting go of anything, that we’re going to continue to resist.”
“The idea is to show that although the law has been passed, we are still mobilised,” she said. “We are a movement that must now be considered a part of the French political landscape. Not political in the sense that we will engage in politics, but political in the sense that politicians today must recognise our presence.”
While the government has turned the page on same-sex marriage and adoption, the country has yet to address the tricky questions of assisted reproduction and surrogacy for gay and lesbian couples – two points staunchly opposed by France’s social conservative and religious groups.
These issues have not been lost on Manif Pour Tous, which already has plans to channel its immense organising capacity into a number of smaller events in the coming months.
“We will be present,” Richards said. “We will be launching conferences over the summer, and starting in September we may put several ideas into action, such as caravans that will travel across France to raise awareness.”
Several protesters at the Manif Pour Tous demonstration expressed their own determination to perpetuate the movement at a grassroots level. Seated with some friends on the green at Invalides, Loic Lachaise, a 37-year-old car mechanic from the northern town of Nogent-le-Roi, emphasised the importance of engaging locally.
“We’re not giving anything up,” he told FRANCE 24. “We’ve got to keep discussing it with people.”
Vincent D., 43, who was among Lachaise’s circle of friends, agreed, adding, “We’re going to stage meetings and hand out leaflets, which is a great opportunity to talk with people.”
As the demonstration drew to a close and the crowds began to disperse, a group known as the Veilleurs, or watchers, stayed behind to hold a vigil. The Veilleurs, which describes itself as a peaceful organisation that “defends a child’s right to grow up with the complimentary love of a father and a mother,” plans to hold daily vigils in Paris for the next week.
Group member Caroline Mako, 24, and two of her friends explained that the organisation relied heavily on social networking websites to help coordinate meetings, saying they hoped the movement would soon spread to other cities across France.
“We’re trying to give a breath of fresh air to the resistance,” Mako told FRANCE 24. “Our goal is to maintain a permanent presence.”
In Pictures: Manif Pour Tous demonstration at Paris' Invalides monument
Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators swarmed the streets of Paris on Sunday to protest against a recent law legalising same-sex marriage and adoption in France. © Rachel Holman
Jean-François Copé, leader of France's right-wing Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party, was at the march, where he urged voters to take the fight to next year's municipal elections."The next rendez-vous should be at the ballot boxes," he said. © Rachel Holman
Jean Dupont (pictured far-left), travelled more than six hours from France's southwestern Landes region to take part in the demonstration. "We wanted to come give our support because we are completely against what the government is doing," Landes said. © Rachel Holman
As the march approached the Iéna métro station in western Paris, several young male protesters lit flares and stripped off their shirts to reveal "No to gay marriage" written in black body paint on their torsos. © Rachel Holman
The march, which took off from three different locations in Paris, converged on the city's Invalides monument where a stage had been mounted for a rally. © Aude Mazoué
Authorities estimated that 150,000 people gathered for the demonstration, while event organisers, Manif Pour Tous, put the number significantly higher, at more than 1 million. © Aude Mazoué
In the run up to Sunday's protests, French Interior Minister Manuel Valls warned families not to bring young children along out of fear that the demonstrations might turn violent. At least 4,500 police were deployed to secure the event. © Rachel Holman
Marie-Camille Richard, deputy communications director for Manif Pour Tous, hailed the protest as a total success. “[The] message is that we’re not letting go of anything, that we’re going to continue to resist,” she said. © Aude Mazoué
The demonstrations, which were largely festive throughout the day, ended in scenes of violence as protesters hurled glass bottles, flares and sound grenades at police forces. At least 293 people were arrested in the clashes. © Rachel Holman
Date created : 2013-05-27