January 15, 2013 at 8:50 am EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Anti-gay marriage march in Paris draws 350,000
An anti-gay marriage rally in Paris on Sunday drew more than 350,000 people. (Photo courtesy of Xavier Héraud/Yagg.com)

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

More than 350,000 people marched through the streets of Paris on Sunday to protest the French government’s proposal that would extend marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples.

The Roman Catholic Church, Jewish and Muslim groups and right wing political parties endorsed the three separate marches spearheaded by comedian Frigide Barjot that converged near the Eiffel Tower. Same-sex marriage opponents traveled from across the country to attend what Charles Roncier, a gay blogger who is an assistant editor-in-chief for the website VIH.org, told the Washington Blade from the French capital that Sunday’s demonstration that organizers claim drew more than 1 million people was the largest against the proposal that “we’ve seen so far.”

“It’s not only people from Paris,” he said, noting the Catholic church reportedly spent €1 million to bring protesters to French capital from other parts of the country. “They would never have enough people, especially in Paris where people are more progressive than the rest of the country.”

President François Hollande endorsed same-sex marriage and adoption rights for gay and lesbian couples during his 2012 presidential campaign.

The country’s lawmakers are expected to begin debate on the proposal on Jan. 29. Even though Hollande’s Socialist Party controls both chambers of the French Parliament, Roncier said he expects a lengthy debate.

“They probably won’t have any trouble passing the law, but what the opposition can do is try to push some modifications over and over again, so it can be quite long actually,” he said. “I think it’s going to pass. It doesn’t matter what they say.”

Neighboring Spain and Belgium are among the European countries that allow same-sex couples to marry. The British government is expected to introduce a bill later this month that would allow nuptials for gays and lesbians in England and Wales.

France’s civil unions law took effect in 1999.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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