France braced for more gay marriage protests
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France’s National Assembly decided Monday to bring forward the final vote on France’s gay marriage bill to April 23, raising the prospect of more mass demonstrations by opponents in the coming days.
Opponents to France’s controversial plans to legalise gay marriage have called for fresh demonstrations after it emerged Monday that a final vote on the legislation is to be brought forward to next week.
France’s upper house of parliament, the Senate, joined the lower house National Assembly in backing the bill last Friday and a final parliamentary vote on the legislation was originally slated to take place in late May.
However, the executive branch of the National Assembly has now decided to bring the final decision forward to April 23.
With the prospect of the bill now becoming law within a matter of mere days, French opponents of gay marriage have called for fresh demonstrations next week.
“There will be a protest or a gathering on April 21st, and there may also be something on April 23rd,” organisers of anti-gay marriage protests told AFP.
Opponents are also planning to gather near the National Assembly every evening as soon as this Tuesday, he added, while a mass protest in Paris is scheduled for May 26th if the law is approved.
With the passing of the legislation becoming increasingly likely, those against the bill have ramped up their actions in recent weeks, with some demonstrations leading to clashes with police.
There have also been claims that the bill has inflamed homophobic sentiments across France. Earlier this month Rights group SOS Homophobie said it had registered a 30 per cent rise in reports of assaults on homosexuals last year compared to 2011, with a marked surge when the debate on gay marriage began in the autumn.
However, leaders of the anti-gay marriage demonstrations have sought to distance the movement from accusations of violence and homophobia.
Frigide Barjot, the French comedian turned figurehead of the anti-gay marriage protests, told RMC radio on Wednesday: “We don't want violence. We denounce this violence and these acts, we have nothing to do with (Catholic) fundamentalists or extremists.”
Meanwhile, a total of around 70 anti-gay marriage protestors were detained by police on Sunday evening as they attempted to set up a campsite outside the National Assembly in Paris.
The demonstrators were held until Monday afternoon before being released with a warning.