Volatile far-right groups are expected to go on the rampage

Over 4000 policemen were deployed in Paris to prevent any outbreak of violence, as the biggest-ever rightwing demonstration against same sex marriage got under way. Police arrested over 50 demonstrators who had chained themselves to railings on the Avenue des Champs Elysees. This final whip of the anti gay marriage, rightwing tail comes just three days prior to the first legal gay marriage in France scheduled for May 29.

Police placed the number of demonstrators at 150,000 but independent observers said there were between 250,000 to 300,000 people in the streets. Volatile far-right groups are expected to go on the rampage late Sunday night and police are taking no chances, especially after the discovery of a large quantity of masks, smoke canisters and banners.

Several demonstrators occupied the headquarters of the Socialist Party in Paris and called for the resignation of President Francois Hollande, who signed the law allowing same-sex marriage and adoption of children by homosexual couples.

There has been a surprising amount of opposition to the law, especially from rightwing and Catholic groups who say a child needs a father and a mother to have a stable childhood.

Since the debate over the law began in Parliament, there has been a sharp increase in homophobic acts. “The kind of insults that are hurled at us are unbelievable. And its much much worse if you trawl the web or go on facebook, twitter etc. Several homosexuals have been physically and verbally attacked,” said Guillaume, a young gay rights activist.

The situation in Paris on Sunday was very tense. Last Tuesday, a far-right historian and essayist Dominique Venner committed suicide in full view of visitors in Notre Dame Cathedral, one of the French capital’s tourist landmarks. A suicide note found on him said he was protesting against a “degenerate” society and a “foul” law that went against the natural order of life.

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