French police have clashed with hundreds of protesters at the end of a major demonstration in Paris against the new gay marriage law.
The Sunday rally in the capital was initially held peacefully without incidents, but at the end police clashed with up to 500 people, using tear gas to scatter the crowd. Police also arrested over 290 people, of which 231 were held in detention pending investigation late Sunday. The protest, which consisted of four separate processions, gathered 150,000 people, according to police. However, organizers of the demonstration reported that one million protesters had participated in the event. The demonstrators say the same-sex marriage legislation is against family and religious values. Prior to the rally, France’s Interior Minister Manuel Valls warned that far-right nationalists were expected to participate in the protest to cause unrest. “We keep hearing about a far-right movement, I can see only families here,” said one protester. French President Francois Hollande signed into law the gay marriage bill on May 18, a day after the Constitutional Council approved the bill, rejecting a challenge by the right-wing opposition. The protest rallies, which began last fall when the gay marriage bill was adopted by the cabinet, have been held at regular intervals across France during the legislative process. French churches have condemned the measure, calling gay marriages “a sham” that would “shake one of the foundations of our society.” France is now the 14th country in the world to accept gay marriage, a divisive topic that has caused strong opinions in many other countries too. In Poland, some 10,000 people marched Sunday in solidarity with the French to defend the traditional family structure. Also in Brazil, tens of thousands of protesters marched in Rio de Janeiro on May 25 protesting a recent legal ruling allowing same-sex couples in the country to marry.