SIMULTANEOUS rallies against same-sex marriage were staged in
the British and French capitals on Sunday, as the governments of
both countries consider plans to make it legal.
But, while the demonstration by about 2000 people in Trafalgar
Square passed off with only minor confrontation between opposing
sides, the Paris protest descended into a battle between
campaigners and riot police, who used tear gas to disperse a crowd
estimated at up to 1.4 million.
In London, children with banners bearing the message "Uphold
marriage" lined the steps to Nelson's Column. The former leader of
the Christian Peoples Alliance, Alan Craig, said that Britain and
France were now united by a "willingness to stand up against sudden
attacks on the vital institution of
marriage".Counter-demonstrators, however, chanted "Shame on you"
and "No bigots here."
A member of the General Synod, Canon Chris Sugden, who is the
executive secretary of Anglican Mainstream, told the crowd: "If
gender is taken out of the definition of marriage through these
proposals, marriage will cease to be marriage. . .
"Even to say that marriage is between a man and a woman is held
to stigmatise those who believe that marriage should be without
gender. . . Gender is being taken out of marriage on the ground of
equality. This is a new sort of equality - no one must be given any
reason for feeling unequal to anyone else. This new equality trumps
In Paris, where a former government minister and president of
the Christian Democratic party, Christine Boutin, was one of the
tear-gas victims, police denied that they had overreacted, and said
that extremists had tried to march on the Elysée Palace. The
organisers, Manif Pour Tous (March for All), demanded the
resignation of the Interior Minister and the police chief.