One of Hollande’s campaign pledges, it has proved hugely divisive in a country that is officially secular but predominantly Catholic.
“Hollande, your mother isn’t called Robert”, shouted some of the demonstrators in a slogan that gained in popularity as the afternoon progressed.
PARIS – At least 150,000 demonstrators took to the streets of Paris to protest a new law allowing gay marriage, a largely peaceful gathering that later turned violent as riot police battled hundreds of right-wingers.
Police said they had made a total of 293 arrests and that six people were injured in the course of Sunday’s demonstration: four police officers, an AFP photographer and a protester.
Interior Minister Manuel Valls, in a statement, blamed the “extreme right” for the violence.
“These incidents were provoked by several hundred individuals, most from the extreme right and the (nationalist) Identity Bloc, who violently attacked police,” he added.
The rally came as the jury at the Cannes film festival in southern France on Sunday awarded its Palme d’Or top prize to the sexually graphic lesbian love story “Blue is the Warmest Colour” by French-Tunisian director Abdellatif Kechiche.
As the protestors dispersed, after a largely peaceful march, police said up to 500 people began attacking them by throwing metal barriers, smoke flares and beer bottles.
The youths shouted slogans against the government such as “Socialist dictatorship” and also threw objects at journalists covering the event.
Fears of unrest at Sunday’s protest had been fuelled by violence that erupted earlier this month during celebrations marking football club Paris Saint-Germain’s league victory, which saw tourists attacked and shop and car windows smashed.
But those in the protest ignored the recent tensions, bringing their children along as others had in previous demonstrations.
“We keep hearing about a far-right movement, I can see only families here,” said one man called Raoul, who came from the city of Dijon.
In Brazil, tens of thousands of evangelical Christians marched in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday protesting a recent legal ruling allowing gay marriage.
Another potential flashpoint will be in the southern town of Montpellier on Wednesday when the country’s first gay wedding is due to take place.