Anti-gay marriage demonstrations in France turned violent overnight as opponents of the ‘marriage for all’ law protested Tuesday’s introduction of same-sex marriage. Clashes flared as police retaliated with tear gas against the hostile crowd.
Despite requests by organizers for marchers to disperse
peacefully, a hardcore group of about 500 refused to leave the
Invalides memorial and museum complex, near the National Assembly
Masked demonstrators threw glass bottles, metal bars, and cans
at police, and riot units retaliated with force to suppress the
crowd. One officer was hospitalized with a head injury after being
hit by a brick.
“The clashes were extremely violent,” an unnamed officer
said, according to the Local.
At least 12 protesters were arrested. Interior Minister Manuel Valls later said those arrested were linked to far-right organizations. After scuffling with police, demonstrators turned their ire on nearby journalists, shouting swear-words at them.
At one point, a mob of masked protesters chased a group of
journalists down the street, and a photographer from AFP was
sprayed with tear gas, the Local reported.
The clashes were predicted by critics of the bill, who warned it
would incite the opposition.
The ‘marriage for all’ law passed by the predominantly Socialist
Parliament on Tuesday is one of France’s biggest social reforms in
the last three decades, allowing same-sex couples to both marry and
The bill passed with 331 votes for and 225 against, with French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, saying that same-sex marriages could happen as early as June. France became the 14th country in the world to legalize the practice, shortly after New Zealand.
“Those protesting today will find themselves moved by the joy of the newlyweds,” Taubira told Parliament.
However, the proposal has not enjoyed as much widespread support
in France as in New Zealand. Within the last two weeks, France’s
top Catholic Bishop, Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, told a collective
of French bishops that the legalization of same-sex marriage risked
inciting violence, a prophecy that was quickly fulfilled.
“You are adding a crisis to a crisis. You are stirring up
tensions and are lighting the fuse of homophobia,” opposition
member Herve Mariton said ahead of the vote, according to
Last Thursday, police reported a rise in homophobic assaults
against both property and people, prompting French President
Francois Hollande's government to call for an end to the violence
and issue threats of severe punishment for such crimes.