Organisers of a mass rally on Sunday against plans to legalise gay marriage in France claim that more than 800,000 people turned out in support. French police said it was more like 350,000 people. Even for protest-prone France, the numbers were high.
President Francois Hollande has vowed to pass the law – which would also allow gay adoption - by June.
One rally speaker demanded that the proposed bill be withdrawn and called for a more thorough public debate.
“For such an important social change, there needs to be support from the majority of people. It’s a really considerable change we’re making to society,” said Parisian Francois Geobiry.
“I hope the demonstration will have an impact. The fact that so many people have taken to the streets shows that it is in fact a law which is not accepted by lots of people. What we need now is a referendum,” said another protester, Guillaume Romaneix.
Support for gay marriage has slipped to below 55 percent according to the latest surveys. Previously nearly two-thirds of French people backed the plans.
But Hollande’s office says the protest would not change his mind over the new law. Gay marriage is already legal in 11 countries.