Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

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Thousands join dozens of spontaneous protests as France fast-tracks gay ‘marriage’ law

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
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April 16, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Since last Friday, public demonstrations against same-sex “marriage” and adoption in France have been escalating, not only in Paris but also in remote provincial towns and even abroad among French expatriates. The Senate’s approval of the gay marriage bill (known as the “loi Taubira,” after the Justice Minister that proposed the text to the legislature) has sparked off a wave of anger, and groups of determined young people all over the country have decided to make their presence felt.

For the Minister of the Interior and the police forces, the situation is turning into a nightmare. There is no centralized organization behind the rallies to look to for information about the next action, no unified group to follow, no “youths” who are “well known by the police,” as is the case when ethnic riots burst out in Paris.

The demonstrators are law-abiding citizens who have no wish to steal, vandalize or hurt the law enforcement officers. They are massively answering calls to join spur-of-the-moment demonstrations via their cell phones and social media. They are in the streets to stop a law that they believe would badly hurt the common good, and they are prepared to give their time, efforts and even a few hours in custody to put a stop to the redefinition of marriage.

Since the beginning, François Hollande’s socialist government has apparently been gambling on the idea that same-sex “marriage” opponents’ mobilization would flag in the face of an accelerated agenda to push the legislation through. But the contrary is true: even the “Manif pour tous” (“Demonstration for all”), the grass-root organization that ran the three major rallies in Paris in November, January and March, has now taken to organizing undeclared public demonstrations in defiance of French laws and regulations which make a preliminary declaration to the police compulsory.

Last Friday afternoon and evening, many thousands of people answered the “Manif pour tous’” call to voice their outrage at the manner in which the Senate adopted the “loi Taubira” with a show of hands in the absence of at least two thirds of the senators, followed within a few hours by the decision to return the text to the National Assembly as of Wednesday 17th April, five weeks ahead of the official calendar.

The demonstrators rallied near the Palais du Luxembourg, which houses the Senate, and were joined by the overtly Catholic group Civitas which had been praying there every evening for more than a week. As on March 24th, teargas was again used against the demonstrators and a number of them were hurt or picked up by the police.

Near midnight large groups of demonstrators managed to move to the main central arteries of Paris, successively blocking the Boulevard Saint-Germain, the rue de Rivoli, the Avenue de l’Opéra and the Town Hall Square; they finally reached the Elysée – the presidential palace – in two separate groups, taking the police by surprise and encircling them. As one of the demonstrators was to say afterwards: “If we had been hooligans things could have degenerated very fast.”

Pictures and videos were posted here by the “Salon beige”, a news-blog run by Catholics which is playing a major role in giving live information about actions against same-sex “marriage” legislation.

At the same time, in Lyons, hundreds of people rallied in the central Place Bellecour, while many others encouraged them with slogans and flags from their apartment windows.

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On Saturday, dozens of local demonstrations took place. In Angoulême, near Bordeaux, thirty cars joined a “go-slow,” as in Bourg-en-Bresse near the Swiss border and Montélimar in the South. Dozens of cars blocked the roads of Toulouse and Orléans, while using their horns in the city centers. A hundred people carrying flags of the “Manif pour tous” rallied in front of the town hall of Mayenne, thousands of others joined similar venues in Angers, Compiègne, Tours, Nantes, Carpentras, Dreux, Strasbourg, Versailles, Bougival, Metz, Bordeaux, Sélestat, Caen, Brignoles, Lille.

Ordinary people in large cities and small towns all over France are standing up to say “no”.

On Sunday, more demonstrations took place, from the Mont-Saint-Michel to Biarritz, where a “Picnic for all” was held on the beach; new – and peaceful – demonstrations were held in Paris near the Senate and dispersed by the police who are getting more and more nervous, taking even young mothers and young people aged 16 into custody. Thousands once more rallied in Lyon, Perpignan, and Caen.

Other forms of action are also continuing. Each time a member of government visits a provincial town dozens of young and less young people bearing flags of the “Manif pour tous” are on the spot to greet the official party; several visits have been cancelled. The Interior minister Manuel Valls’ visit to a concert on Sunday evening in Paris was protected by 30 police vans and several people who joined the protests were arrested. Passers-by who had no idea of what was going on were also arrested in the melee. A growing number of police and “gendarmes” are voicing their irritation about orders coming from the government to repress the movement with exceptional severity.

On Saturday, journalist and activist Caroline Fourest, known as a lesbian and proponent of gay “marriage” – she is also close to the “Femens”, feminist activists who recently opened a training camp in Paris – was met by hundreds of demonstrators in Nantes where she was to give a talk on Islam. Her train back to Paris was blocked for 45 minutes before being able to leave and on arrival in the French capital another demonstration made it necessary to “protect” her passage to the subway: once again, a number of police vans were called to the rescue.

In the small hours of Saturday, a leading member of the “Manif pour tous,” Samuel Lafont, was knifed several times in the center of Paris after pro-gay “marriage” activists had called for violence against him on Twitter. While his alleged aggressors are apparently not linked to the pro-gay movement in any way – they are Brazilians who were arrested on Sunday afternoon – outrageous remarks from the pro-gay “marriage” lobby hoping he would die triggered a new series of demonstrations in the center of Paris on Sunday.

In the wake of these events a large group of opponents decided to camp near the   National Assembly on Saturday evening, receiving visits from several UMP members of parliament. Spontaneous demonstrations and camps are frequent there and are usually tolerated, at least for a time: on this occasion, the 67 campers were apprehended and remanded in custody. They were released on Sunday afternoon to a triumphant welcome.

Videos recorded inside police vans show them chanting: “L’apéro chez Flamby!” – “Drinks at Flamby’s”, Flamby being a brand of caramel custard used as a nickname for François Hollande by members of his own socialist party to characterize his alleged indecision and flabbiness.

Also on a lighter note, groups of young men calling themselves “Hommens” (as opposed to the “Femen”) have organized multiple actions baring their chests and climbing on public fountains or otherwise demonstrating their resolve. On Monday evening they formed a human chain blocking the Parisian Rue de Rivoli for several minutes before being dragged away one by one by riot police, and driven to the police station for identity controls.

Courage, gaiety, light-heartedness and youth: these are the marks of a gallant French resistance that is vexing the powers that be, baffling the police and surprising the world. Something has changed deeply in France since nearly 40 years ago when the legalization of abortion was met with much less opposition and amidst near silence from the Catholic Church. Now many bishops are speaking out – and the communications revolution has given new power to ordinary citizens.

From now things will be stepping up. Daily demonstrations are being organized near the National Assembly from Tuesday onward, large rallies will take place in Paris on April 21st and again on May 5th, while the major demonstration scheduled for May 26th in the French capital is also being maintained.

Photos from Le Salon Beige



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