DEMONSTRATORS gathered in Paris and Bordeaux yesterday to denounce gay marriage and gay couples’ access to IVF and surrogacy.
The “Manif pour Tous” movement, which organised it, is claiming rallies of more than 500,000 in Paris and 30,000 in Bordeaux - police say numbers were more like 70,000 in Paris and 3,500 in Bordeaux. The “Manif” was originally formed in protest at 2013’s “Taubira Law”, which legalised gay mariage (known as “mariage pour tous”) and adoption.
The marches came despite Prime Minister Manuel Valls’ confirmation last week that France would not make surrogacy legal, even though the European Court of Human Rights has condemned the country for refusing to give French nationality to children born to foreign surrogate mothers.
The mainly right-wing demonstrators, who are hoping for repeal of the Loi Taubira, said they were protesting about universal access to in-vitro fertilisation (procréation médicalement assistée – PMA) and surrogacy (gestation pour autrui - GPA), although neither of these is part of the law.
Senior members of the UMP and FN parties attended, but former president and contender for presidency of the UMP Nicolas Sarkozy was notably absent despite saying last week that if elected he would add a clause to the constitution saying that IVF would only be made available to infertile heterosexual couples.
He remains vague about whether he would repeal the Loi Taubira, while fellow contenders for the UMP presidency Alain Juppé and François Fillon both say that they would not repeal the law, which has majority support in France.
Last week Prime Minister Manuel Valls confirmed that France would not automatically recognise children born from foreign surrogates, a u-turn after confirming in an interview in 2011 that he was open to surrogacy and IVF for all women.
Editor of newspaper Libération Laurent Joffrin said the Manif pour Tous movement was religious and anti-gay, despite claiming to be pro-family but secular.
“Here is an initiative, an encroachment that comes from Catholicism, even if the church in its wisdom, is starting to keep a distance from the movement. A minority of Muslims want an Islamic state. These protesters want a Catholic state. Both are equally condemnable. Let’s leave God to deal with what is for God to deal with, and Parliament to deal with what is for the République.”