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Thousands Of Anti-Gay Marriage Protesters March In France

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Thousands of people in Paris marched Sunday in a call for the repeal of a law allowing gay marriage, six months before France holds its next presidential election.

The protesters ended their rally at Trocadero Plaza near the Eiffel Tower. Organizers announced that 200,000 people attended the demonstration, but law enforcement estimates a much more conservative number of 24,000.

The anti-gay marriage march also protested the use of assisted reproductive techniques and surrogacy to help same-sex couples have children. Assisted reproduction in France is only allowed for heterosexual couples with infertility issues, and surrogacy is illegal, the Washington Times reports.

The organizers of the demonstration says that it promotes the traditional family model of “one mother and one father,” as indicated on the banners and flags held by the protesters.

The group hopes to influence the debate on the issue of same-sex marriage before the presidential elections.

None of the major election candidates attended the event.

A small group of demonstrators from the feminist group Femen also showed up at the march, bare-breasted, to fight back against homophobia. The Femen members were removed by police officers.

In May 2013, gay marriage was legalized in France. It was the 13th country in the world to allow same-sex unions, applicable to metropolitan France, as well as departments and territories abroad. The bill, which not only allows marriage but also lets couples jointly adopt children, was approved in the National Assembly and the Senate by a wide margin.

The first same-sex marriage took place in the same month the law was passed, in the city of Montpellier.

Legalization exposed deep divisions among the citizens of France, with polls showing that the French were almost equally on either side. Protests both for and against the law have since been held across the country. In May 2013, surveys showed that 51-53% of respondents favored same-sex marriage, but the numbers have since risen considerably – the latest polls show that over 60% of the French approve of same-sex unions as of August 2016.

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