March 24, 2013 | by Michael K. Lavers
Anti-gay marriage march in Paris draws estimated 300,000

An anti-gay marriage rally in Paris in January drew more than 350,000 people. (Photo courtesy of Xavier Héraud/Yagg.com)

An anti-gay marriage rally in Paris in January drew more than 350,000 people. (Photo courtesy of Xavier Héraud/Yagg.com)

Hundreds of thousands of people marched through the streets of Paris on Sunday in opposition to a bill that would extend marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples in France.

Le Monde and other French media reported 300,000 people took part in the protest organized by comedian Frigide Barjot. Organizers of “La Manif Pour Tous” or the “Demonstration for All” claimed on their website that 1.4 million people participated.

Police also used tear gas and batons against a group of roughly 200 protesters who had tried to march on the Champs Elysées without a permit. A video posted to America Blog shows a man with a young child on his shoulders apparently challenging authorities who had just sprayed tear gas into the crowd.

“La Manif Pour Tous vigorously condemns all violent or illegal action,” march organizers said.

The French Senate on April 2 is expected to start debating the bill the National Assembly approved last month by a 329-229 vote margin.

More than 350,000 people took part in a march against the same-sex marriage and adoption bill in Paris in January. A demonstration in support of the proposal drew more than 100,000 people to the French capital on Jan. 27.

President François Hollande endorsed same-sex marriage and adoption rights for gay and lesbian couples during his 2012 presidential campaign. Justice Minister Christiane Taubira testified in support of the bill before the National Assembly.

“The power has obstinately refused for several months to listen to the people of France, it has tested them by using every means at their disposal to prevent them from expressing their will,” march organizers said on their website, specifically pointing out authorities did not grant a permit to allow them to march on Paris’ main boulevard. “[Hollande] hoped to discourage them from coming [to Paris] this Sunday to say no to the Taubira bill.”

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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