The City of Love... for some.
Ah, Paris. City of Lights, City of Love, romance, history, revolution, progress… and prejudice?
Over the centuries, we’ve come to associate Paris, and by extent, the French, with all things romantic and beautiful. Even for a city that saw nearly 3,000 murdered (often in public displays) in less than a year during the Reign of Terror, Paris has maintained its reputation as an enlightened and beautiful places, famed for its architecture, food, and language.
Yet for a country and city so associated with lifelong passion, contagious ardor, and even brief dalliances, not everybody is “down with love.”
This past weekend, tens of thousands of people gathered to march from the Porte de Dauphine to the Place du Trocadero (across the Seine from the Eiffel Tower) to protest same-sex marriage equality, which has been legal in France since 2013. For a country so associated with social progress, what exactly brought about such an uproar? As it turns out, it was more than just gay marriage that had them riled up.
Gay Marriage in France
A bill that would legalize same-sex marriage, as well as a gay couple’s right to adopt children, was first introduced to the French National Assembly in November 2012, and it was supported by President François Hollande.
The bill was approved with a 329-229 vote in the National Assembly, and later with a 171-165 vote in the Senate, and it officially became law—called “Marriage for All”—on May 18, 2013, making France the thirteenth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.
Around this time, several polls found popular gay marriage approval to be around 51-53%, while public support for same-sex adoption rights ranged from about 47-50%. Regardless, once France had passed the law, it joined in the ranks of its neighbors like England, Wales, Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
La Manif Pour Tous
Meaning “Demonstration for All,” La Manif Pour Tous is a traditional family advocate group based in France that rallies against causes like marriage equality even though their mission statement says they serve “to preserve our life, our society and our humanity, and commit ourselves with determination and without homophobia.”
A conservative group, La Manif Pour Tous works to repeal Marriage for All and give the power to determine same-sex marriage equality to local governments.
March on Paris
Last weekend, some 24,000 protesters from across the country gathered at the Porte de Dauphine in Paris’s 16th arrondissement in a rally organized by La Manif Pour Tous. The anti-gay group reported that there were 200,000 gathered for the cause.
Together, protesters marched several avenues to the picturesque Place du Trocadero in central Paris, just across from the Eiffel Tower. Timing their protest to coincide with the upcoming elections, which will be held in April, marchers held signs saying “I will vote for family” and “Women’s wombs are not for sale.”
Though public polls show the majority of the country is pro-same-sex marriage, the protestors represent a surprisingly active group of conservatives and Roman Catholics.
But it’s not just gay marriage that these tens of thousands were protesting. Like so many homophobic arguments, it came down to “protecting the children”. Keep reading.