Hundreds of priests in Britain oppose same
sex marriage bill
1,000 priests in Britain have signed a letter voicing their
concern about how same-sex marriages will threaten religious
freedom and may even lead to Catholics being excluded from jobs.
The Equal Marriage Bill, allowing couples of the same sex to
marry, is due to be published »
Paris: Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators,
including Christians and Muslims, poured into Paris to protest
against gay marriage laws that will come into force in June under
plans drawn up by the French President Francois Hollande.
Police expect about 300,000 people to march on the Eiffel Tower
from three points in the city, in what could be the largest
demonstration in a decade.
Various counter-demonstrations were
also planned, Le Monde reported. A massive police presence,
bolstered by military and security forces, is to be deployed on
the streets of the French capital. The marriage proposals would
grant same-sex couples the right to adopt children, along with
other legal entitlements.
Polls show about 50 percent of French
voters support gay marriage, down from 65 percent in August, while
less than half now support the granting of adoption rights to
But while the plans have proved nationally divisive, they have
rallied the opposition, uniting disparate groups including
Catholics, Muslims, Jews, far-rightists and even homosexuals in
increasingly vocal opposition.
A coalition of the Catholic
establishment, traditional families, conservatives and
evangelicals has been mobilized to oppose the moves. The
demonstrations caused major disruptions to transport and forced
the closure of metro stations as protesters streamed into Paris by
bus, car and especially reserved high-speed train.
"We want this
draft law to be withdrawn," protest organizer Patricia Soullier
told BFM-TV as she boarded a Paris-bound train in the southern
city of Marseille.
The proposals formed part of Hollande's election manifesto, and
are likely to be passed without difficulty by parliament. The
president angered many with what was seen as a clumsy attempt to
avoid public debate and slip the reform through parliament.
Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, head of the Catholic Church in France,
rallied the opposition with a sermon in August. Muslim, Jewish,
Protestant and Orthodox Christians joined him in speaking out.
The problems that children could face in same-sex households
became a key issue, uniting the various groups opposed to the
measure. Plans to allow lesbian couples access to artificial
insemination, which is currently limited to heterosexual couples
with fertility problems, have been dropped in face of the mounting
Organizers insist they are protesting in favour of
traditional marriages, rather than against gays and lesbians.
are marriagophile, not homophobe," Frigide Barjot, a protest
organiser and author of a book entitled Confessions of a Trendy
Catholic, said. "I'm happy many Catholics will be mobilized, but
this is not a church demonstration against the government," said
Cardinal Vingt-Trois, who says he will go to meet the marchers,
but will not join them.
Civitas, a far-right Catholic group whose protests have been
openly homophobic, plans a rival march that will run parallel to
the main columns.