Photo Gallery: Anti-Gay Protest Turns Violent in Paris
Protest in Paris Anti-Gay Marriage Activists Clash with Police
A colorful protest turned into a street battle in Paris on Sunday after anti-gay marriage demonstrators clashed with police.
An estimated 300,000 people took to the streets in the French capital to protest against the "marriage for everyone" draft law, passed last month by parliament with a wide majority led by President François Hollande's Socialists and their allies. The demontrators hope to discourage the bill's approval next month by the Senate, where the Socialists also lead.
Disagreement over the bill -- a campaign promise by Hollande -- is dividing French society. While many supported the measure when Hollande was elected, rising unemployment and the president's failure to improve the economy have sparked resentment of the bill to grant same-sex couples equal marriage and adoption rights. Placards carried by protesters read: "We want a job, not gay marriage."
Conservative activists, families, pensioners and priests came out to try and stop the law from being passed, many of them from outside the city. But the protest took a violent turn when police blocked a few hundred demonstrators from veering onto the city's famous Champs-Elysées avenue toward the presidential palace. Demonstrators reportedly harassed officers and objects began flying through the air, prompting police to use tear gas and batons.
Participants reportedly fell to the ground, overcome by the tear gas. Prominent politician Christine Boutin, who heads the conservative Christian Democratic Party, was also reportedly injured. At least two arrests were made.
The landmark Champs-Élysées, a tourist magnet, had not been approved as a route for the protest. Interior Minister Manuel Valls said the demonstration "got out of hand" when organizers became overwhelmed by "extremist groups" taking part in the protest.
While police estimated that some 300,000 took part, protest organizers said that 1.4 million people were there.