Protests in French cities against plans to legalize gay marriage
By Gérard Bon
PARIS (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of people, joined by Catholic church leaders, marched in cities across France on Saturday to protest against government plans to legalize same-sex marriage.
Demonstrators, holding banners with slogans such as "don't touch civil marriage", "all born from the union of a man and a woman" and "one father + one mother for all children", took to the streets in Paris, Lyon, Marseille and other major towns.
The organization behind the protests, called "Demos for All" in imitation of the "marriage for all" call of gay-marriage campaigners, claims the Socialist government's reforms, which polls indicate have popular support, would threaten "major and dangerous upheaval".
The organizers said 200,000 people demonstrated in the French capital, compared with a police estimate of 70,000.
France's National Assembly is due to start examining the proposed law allowing same-sex marriage in January, with a vote expected in mid-2013. It would grant gay couples the right to adopt children but not to use assisted procreation methods.
Recent polls show the majority of French people support gay marriage, though not the right for homosexual couples to adopt.
France's top Catholic prelate, Paris Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, earlier this month criticised the government for forging ahead with the plans at a time when the country faced urgent economic concerns.
Pope Benedict told French bishops visiting the Vatican on Saturday not to be "afraid" of spreading Christian teachings. Continued...