Things are still simmering around the new gay marriage law in France. Pink News reports:
Equal marriage opponents in France took to the streets on Friday to protest against the prison term given to a man who was part of an illegal anti-equal marriage demonstration, who fled from police, and gave a false identity when caught. Demonstrations took place in Paris and Bordeaux on Friday evening, against the sentence of two months in prison, two months suspended, and a 1000[euro] (#850) fine against Nicolas Bernard-Busse, reports RFI. 500 people demonstrated in Paris, and around 200 in Bordeaux, with supporters chanting about a “socialist dictatorship”, against the sentence handed down on Wednesday.
The first gay couple got married in Montpellier yesterday – Towleroad.com has the video:
France’s first gay marriage took place today in the southern city of Montpellier. Vincent Autin and Bruno Boileau were wed by Helene Mandroux, the city’s mayor, in a ceremony as dignified as it was peaceful. Approximately 600 guests attended the wedding, including two cabinet ministers and more than a hundred journalists.
Congratulations to the happy couple.
In other news, the former comedian and current leader of Manif Pour Tous is leaving the post, saying extremists have taken over the movement. Joe.My.God reports:
After the latest rally ended in violence as a hail of bottles and bricks rained down on France’s police force and journalists were attacked in the street, Frigide Barjot, the comic who has led the ‘Manif pour Tous’ (demo for all) campaign, walked away, along with her right hand man Xavier Bongibault. Speaking to The Local this week, Bongibault said they would continue to fight against gay marriage but under a new banner “l’Avenir pour Tous” (A future for all), which plans to bring together like-minded people to share their ideas.
After unleashing such a tide of hatred and intolerance against gays and lesbians, she just walks away.
Yes, they’re holding another mass rally against gay marriage today in Paris. Yawn. Pink News reports:
Organisers of today’s protests claimed that over a million French citizens would take to the streets, however the Interior Ministry has estimated the numbers at closer to 200,000. Police sources have expressed that a much smaller number, 300-500 members of radical far-right factions, may attempt to disrupt the rally, and cause violence. Thousands of police took to the streets of Paris in preparation for the rally, which takes place ahead of the first same-sex wedding, which is to take place in Montpellier, known as the “French San Francisco”, because of its large gay community, on 29 May.
Yes, because the last few rallies worked out so well and prevented marriage equality from becoming the law. Oops…
In related news, a number of protesters were arrested on the eve of the big rally. AFP reports:
But while rights groups have hailed the move, opponents of the measures have vowed to fight on and on Saturday evening a group of protesters chained themselves to metal barriers they placed in the middle of the busy Champs-Elysees. Some fired smoke cannisters before police moved in and arrested them. At the same time dozens more protesters assembled on the pavement waving flags. In total 50 people were held and a van carrying masks, banners and smoke bombs was seized, police said.
French right-wing historian Dominique Venner shot and killed himself on the altar of Paris’ famed Notre Dame Cathedral today at 4PM local time in front of throngs of tourists in protest of France’s recent legalization of same-sex marriage. As the Daily Mail reports, Dominique Venner, who had recently been campaigning against gay marriage in France, is said to have calmly walked past the crowds milling around the 850-year-old Cathedral, one of the most popular tourist sites in the world, before taking out a Herstal automatic pistol. The 78-year-old put the gun in his mouth and fired before collapsing on to the altar.
Out French singer Mika is headlining a free concert in support of the marriage equality law in Paris on May 21st. Gay Star News reports:
British gay singer/songwriter Mika will headline a free Paris to celebrate marriage equality in France. According to French newspaper La Parisienne, Mika will headline the Long Live Equality concert to celebrate France’s gay marriage law that passed last month, and to reaffirm the importance of fighting homophobia. Originally scheduled to take place on 17 May, International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), the Long Live Equality concert was rescheduled to 21 May, five days before a national demonstration scheduled by opponents of the ‘Marriage for All’ law.
This one will take place on May 26th. Don’t these people have jobs? Oops, maybe they don’t. From Joe.My.God:
From France’s Manif Pour Tous: “More than 120 000 protesters in 15 French cities against Taubira’s law: Building up to the Mega-Demonstration on May 26 in Paris. Demonstrations for alterity in marriage all over France, demonstration against austerity at the place de la Bastille, it seems that it’s high time for the President to listen to the French people! It is high time that this law, a law that wounds democracy and weakens families and children, be abandonned. The executive branch’s strategy is clear and politically manipulative: mollify the people by delaying debate on assisted reproduction to start again when the political climate is sunnier.”
When will these folks get tired of constant protests?
This movement was born of opposition to this law. It will not stop until the law has been withdrawn. We will relentlessly continue to warn the French people of the dangers of this law. And we will defend the right of conscience for mayors opposed to this law. We will express this resolve massively, determinedly, peacefully during the May 26 MEGA-DEMONSTRATION in Paris and during other actions, diverse, peaceful, and continuous, until we are heard by the government.
Well, there’s your answer. Gotta admire their commitment, anyhow.
Joe also reports on the controversy over a tweeted image in France:
The above image went viral on French Twitter accounts yesterday, angering gay activists and embarrassing Manif Pour Tous. The poster, designed by an anti-same sex marriage activist, depicts France’s Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira, who is black, as a raging gorilla/King Kong, overwhelmed by a flow of demonstrators from the “Manif Pour Tous,” the main anti-same sex organization. The slogan is a play on words: “manif monstre” can mean ‘giant demo.’ The picture, posted on Monday night, was retweeted and commented massively by anti-gay rights activists and by both outraged anti- and pro-same sex marriage activists. French Guiana-born Christiane Taubira is, as Francois Hollande’s Minister of Justice, the main proponent of the bill legalising same-sex marriage. She has been the target of a large majority of the slogans and banners from anti-same sex marriage demonstrators.
Anti gay marriage forces held another rally in Paris and Lyon (and probably other places) this weekend. Joe.My.God reports:
An estimated 15,000 attended in Paris. The second clip, via JMG reader Str8Grandmother, is from Lyon.
The last few rallies have seen turn-out in the hundreds of thousands. Now that the marriage equality bill has passed and awaits only a constitutional review and presidential signature, are these protests slowly winding down? What do you think?
Click the link above for the second video, from Lyon.
France had its first gay wedding expo just days after the parliament adopted the marriage equality bill. Gay Star News reports:
French photographers, caterers, wedding planners, were just some of the businesses represented in a fair dedicated to the special moment when a same-sex couple ties the knot and says ‘I do’. As an economic slump sees traditional couples spend less on weddings, French entrepreneurs look for gay marriage as an attractive business opportunity. The fair, which was held yesterday (26 April) under tight security after violent anti-gay marriage protests, attracted nationwide prospective gay and lesbian clients and even from abroad.
As the marriage equality bill goes before the Constitutional Council, we don’t yet have a date for the first gay and lesbian weddings in France, but most observers think it will be sometime in June.
Sadly, following the pattern established in previous marches, rallies in France on the day that the marriage equality bill was passed once again became violent. Towleroad reports:
Despite the requests of organizers that marchers disperse peacefully, a hard core group of around 500 refused to leave the Invalides.Their anger soon boiled over as bottles and firecrackers were hurled at the riot police, who had blocked off a street leading to the parliament. One officer was taken to hospital with a head wound after being hit by a brick. “The clashes were extremely violent,” one officer told French media. Police, who responded with tear gas, made 12 arrests. The protesters also turned their ire on journalists in the vicinity, shouting “scumbags” and “collaborators” at the members of the press. 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.
Here’s a video showing some of the clashes:
Towleroad also reports on violence at the march in Lyon, France:
Police reported that 44 people were arrested in the eastern city of Lyon, France following yesterday’s passage of marriage equality.
And Think Progress reports that the National Organization For Marriage is finally acknowledging the violence at the rallies, even though they try to make it sound like both sides are responsible for it:
We urge all French citizens to contact lawmakers to express their strong opposition to this policy. We also call on all citizens to conduct themselves honorably and peacefully. Even though the same-sex marriage policy being foisted on an unwilling public is profoundly unwise and anti-family, no citizen should ever express their disapproval through violent means. We condemn in the strongest possible terms violence by anyone on either side of this debate.
Nice try, Mr. Brown, but the violence has been squarely on the side of the anti-gay marriage protesters.
As the French assembly gets ready for its final vote on marriage equality tomorrow, activist for and against gay marriage held rallies in Paris on Sunday. Pink News reports:
The marchers, estimated at 50,000, walked through Montparnasse, while thousands of counter-protesters showed their support for marriage equality legislation at a smaller gathering in Bastille Square. Among the anti-equality protesters were the head of the Christian Democratic Party, Christine Boutin, and far-right leader Gilbert Collard, who marched together behind a banner. Camille, a 32-year-old mother, told the AFP: “We’ve been to all the protests. We’re here for children’s rights. We don’t want the state to be complicit in a child being deprived of a father or a mother.”
Joe.My.God reports on the counter protesters – those in favor of marriage equality:
Thousands gathered on Sunday at the Plac de la Bastille in Paris to show their support for a new bill to legalise gay marriage. The gathering took place at the same time as opponents of the legislation marched towards the National Assembly. France’s LGBT community accuse those who oppose the law of being homophobic. They say a nation such as France, whose national motto is “liberty, equality and fraternity,” should not question the need for such a law.
Zach Ford at Think Progress reports on the escalating violence by the anti-gay forces:
As the French National Assembly prepares to vote on final approval of marriage equality, anti-gay violence has severely escalated. Multiple guerrilla rallies by opponents of the law have taken place over the past few days, resulting in vandalized cars, assaulted journalists, and even death threats to lawmakers. A 24-year-old gay man was brutally beaten Saturday night after leaving a club with his boyfriend in the latest example of how the opposition is directly targeting gay people.Police have already made over 100 arrests over the past week.
Now, the president of the National Assembly has received a death threat: Claude Bartolone, the Socialist president of France’s Assemblee Nationale (lower house of parliament) on Monday received a threatening letter containing gunpowder and demanding he defer a parliamentary vote, expected to definitively legalize gay marriage on Tuesday. The one-page letter, signed by “an intermediary of law enforcement,” warns Bartolone that “our methods are more radical and more swift than protests”, according to French magazine L’Express. The document concludes with the statement “You wanted war, and you’ve got it.”
The anti-gay marriage folks only tarnish their cause with such tactics. Over at On Top Magazine, they report that more than 100 activists were arrested during yesterday’s protest
Police have arrested more than 100 people as activists damaged cars and public property and attacked police officers and two journalists, The Local reported. On Sunday, tens of thousands joined a demonstration in Paris. Organizers said they expected between 30,000 and 50,000 people to join the march.