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Tear gas used at gay union protest

Protestors sprayed by police as they try to march down Champs-Elysées

POLICE used tear gas to prevent anti-gay marriage protestors demonstrating on the Champs-Elysées, as tens of thousands of people gathered in the capital yesterday ahead of next month's Senate vote on the bill.

The demonstrators lined a 5km route from the La Défense to the Arc de Triomphe. Police authorities had banned marching on the Champs-Elysées on public order grounds, but an estimated 200 protestors tried to ignore the ban.

They clashed with CRS riot police at a road block at the top of the avenue at about 16.00 on Sunday. A police spokesman said there were no reported injuries.

Christian Democrat politician Christine Boutin is reported to have been one of the protestors sprayed with tear gas. She told BFMTV: "Children were sprayed by police. We were all peaceful - the way police treated us was unacceptable."

Right-wing politicians, including former minister Laurent Wauqiez, were among those criticising the police actions.

Protestors want the bill, legalising same-sex marriage and adoption, to be put to a public referendum. It has already been passed by the National Assembly and will be debated by senators from April 2.

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