Clashes at French rallies over lesbian couples conceiving children

Paris (AFP) –


Several thousand people demonstrated on Saturday, and sporadic clashes broke out during rallies for and against a draft law that would allow lesbian couples to conceive children in France.

The biggest protest against the legislation took place in Angers, western France, where around 900 people marched, and roughly the same number rallied in favour of it.

Light clashes broke out between the two groups, and local officials said two people were arrested.

Smaller rallies were held in other cities and in the business district of La Defense west of Paris.

In Rennes, the regional capital of Brittany, fighting was also reported when around 250 people opposed to the bill were confronted by some 600 who tried to break up their rally.

Police used water cannon and tear gas as they tried to protect the authorised demonstration against the legislation.

"It is the first time in Rennes there has been such a an outburst of violence against us," said Hubert des Minieres of the "Manif pour tous" ("Protest for Everyone") group that organised the protest.

Three people were arrested, local police said on their Twitter account.

In Lille, northern France, around 400 people turned out, including graphic artist Vianney Cuvelier, 53, who told AFP: "I am here to defend children, because I believe that a child born without a father faces discrimination."

The government has proposed a law on bioethics that would allow all women to benefit from medically-assisted procreation.

It is to face a second hearing in the French Senate on February 2.

The Manif pour Tous movement says it will stage another demonstration Sunday in front of the Health Ministry in Paris.

It claims to defend "traditional family values" and tried unsuccessfully to prevent the legalisation of same-sex marriages in 2013.