PARIS – Tens of thousands of French took to the streets on Saturday, November 17, in protest at government plans to legalize same-sex marriage in the southern European country.
"I'm here like everyone else, like the Protestants, the Catholics, the Muslims, the philosophers,” Lyon Cardinal Philippe Barbarin was quoted as saying by Reuters.
“It's a message to politicians so that a debate is organized on such a fundamental issue.”
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More than 200,000 French took to the streets in several cities in protest at plans to legalize same-sex marriage.
The protestors carried banners calling on the government of President Francois Hollande to protect traditional marriage between a man and a woman.
“Don’t touch civil marriage”, “all born from the union of a man and a woman” and “one father + one mother for all children” were among banners carried by the protestors.
The Socialist-led government approved a draft law earlier this month to legalize same-sex marriage in France.
The bill, which will be debated by France’s National Assembly in January, would grant gay couples the right to adopt children.
The bill has invited popular anger in France, with Catholic bishops leading the opposition against the plans.
France's top Catholic prelate, Paris Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, earlier this month criticized the government for forging ahead with the plans at a time when the country faced urgent economic concerns.
In August, Vingt-Trois launched the Catholic campaign with a national prayer day against same-sex marriage.
Passing the law would make France the 12th country around the world to legalize same-sex marriage.
It is already allowed in Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden.
Protestors warned that legalizing same-sex marriage would undermine family life in France.
"It's scandalous that the government wants to institutionalize a state lie by hiding the fact that the basis of every child is a dad and a mom," Jean-Marie Barbiche, who came with his wife and four children, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Protester Beatrice Bodji said she had come because "children are taken hostage" if same-sex marriage and adoption are allowed.
The French demonstrations against the gay marriage plans have won support of the Vatican.
Pope Benedict told French bishops visiting the Vatican on Saturday not to be "afraid" of spreading Christian teachings.
"In the important debates about society, the voice of the church must make itself heard relentlessly and with determination," he said.
The Vatican pledged this month never to stop fighting attempts to "erase" the privileged role of heterosexual marriage, which it called "an achievement of civilization".
Same-sex relationship and marriage are totally prohibited in Islam, Christianity and all divine religions.
Islam teaches that believers should neither do the obscene acts, nor in any way indulge in their propagation.
The Catholic Church teaches that homosexuality is not a sin, but considers homosexual intercourse as sinful.
In January, Pope Benedict XVI said that same-sex marriage threatened "the future of humanity itself."
In March, he denounced moves to legalize the same-sex marriage in the United States, where President Barack Obama has since come out in its support.Catholic Church leaders in England and Scotland have also spoken out against gay marriage this year after Prime Minister David Cameron and the Scottish regional government both announced plans to legalize it.
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