Religious political groups have mobilized against France’s new gay marriage law, organizing a massive protest in Paris yesterday, Sunday 26 May. An estimated 150,000 protesters participated in “La Manif pour tous” (the protest for everyone). This phrase is a counterattack to the slogan of the campaign for gay marriage in France, “Mariage pour tous” (marriage for all).
Catholic militants have led the charge against gay marriage in France, but conservative Muslim and Jewish groups have also participated in many protests. Religious politics has united diverse groups on this particular issue, perhaps reshaping the broader configurations of protests on human rights issues.
The protest yesterday turned violent, as some protesters clashed with French riot police after the end of the official protest.
This protest follows the dramatic political suicide of Dominique Venner, a right-wing political figure and ex-soldier, who shot himself in front of the altar at the cathédrale de Notre-Dame de Paris on 21 May in a protest against gay marriage.
Le Monde reports on Venner’s suicide. Le Monde also reports on a counter-protest in the cathédrale de Notre-Dame de Paris the next day, in which a member of the feminist organization Femen bared her chest (with the slogan, “May Fascism Rest in Hell”) and pretended to shoot herself, mocking Venner’s suicide.
Although France is often described as a secular or post-religious society, the intensity of religious politics over gay marriage suggests that religion still plays important roles in French society.