France’s anti-gay marriage movement eyes next battle

Rachel Holman/FRANCE 24

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.

Clashes errupt at anti same-sex marriage demonstration in Paris

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Despite the fact there is little chance the legislation on same-sex marriage and adoption will ever be repealed, Marie-Camille Richard, deputy communications director of Manif Pour Tous, told FRANCE 24, “[The] message is that we’re not letting go of anything, that we’re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

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