Tens of thousands have turned out in France to rally in favour of “traditional family values”, and against medically assisted fertilisation for lesbian couples and surrogacy, which campaign leader Ludovine de la Rochere said must be “fought at all costs”.
The marches were organised by the “Manif pour Tous” (Protest for Everyone) group which last year led an ultimately unsuccessful grassroots protest against the adoption of gay marriage, The Local has reported.
Marchers took to the streets in both Paris and Bordeaux, although there is some discrepancy between numbers between the organisers and police. In Paris, Manif pour Tous claim to have attracted 500,000 to the cause, whilst police say numbers were closer to 70,000, and in Bordeaux the group claim 30,000 took part, whilst police put the figure at more like 7,500.
What is certain is that 1000 police officers were on-hand in Paris to ensure the smooth running of the event. No arrests were made, and police say the march took place without incident.
Protestors carried banners against surrogacy reading “No to surrogate mothers” and “A woman is not a baby-machine”.
“The next stage will be to put children on shop shelves and we will choose the ones we like,” one pensioner told AFP, whilst Thibault, 30, told them that surrogacy is a form of “industrialisation” and “modern slavery”.
Seeking to calm the issue, Prime Minster Manuel Valls assured protestors that surrogacy “is and will remain banned in France”.
Despite this, by Sunday morning 200,000 people had signed a petition calling for a mandatory ban on surrogacy by French citizens within just four days, Libération reported. However, a poll by Ifop for Altantico showed that less that 31 percent of French citizens supported the “values and ideas” of the group and their demonstration.
“All Out”, a gay right activist organisation called for a counter-protest in support of “equality of all couples and families”, but failed to draw many supporters, with just a few hundred turning out in the rain on Place de la Republique in Paris.
The protest follows one held last February with the same aims, and the organisation is planning further protests, saying that it has been on the streets of France “for two years with the same message”.
Last year the group launched a massive campaign against the legalisation of same sex marriage, claiming to have drawn 1.4 million demonstrators onto the streets of Paris to protest the legislation. Nonetheless, France became the 14th country in the world to legalise marriage between homosexuals, a move that polls showed was supported by 55 – 60 percent of the French population.