France was a nation of rioting and revelry as the country became the 14th in the world to legalize gay marriage yesterday (23 April).
As the National Assembly passed the final vote, protest marches turned violent.
Stones, bottles and iron bars rained down on riot police units brought in to protect the Parisian parliament. They responded by firing tear gas at the protesters, and made 12 arrests.
‘If some people think that it’s over, we’ll show them that it is not finished,’ anti-gay leader Frigide Barjot told the crowd.
‘I solemnly ask the president to submit the bill to a referendum. This law is not legitimate.’
There were other clashes in Lyon, in central France, where 44 people were arrested.
It was a different story in the gay quarter of Paris, Marais, where LGBT people were celebrating the news.
Christiane Taubira, the Justice Minister, said the first gay weddings in June will bring joy after all the violence.
‘Those who are opposed to them today will surely be confounded when they are overcome with the happiness of the newlyweds and the families,’ she told the French press.
Nicolas Gougain, a spokesman for Inter-LGBT, France’s leading gay rights group, told the AFP that the law was a victory for equality and democracy.
He said: ‘This law takes no rights away from anyone, it only grants rights to others. This is liberation after years of fighting for equality.’
In recent weeks, homophobic attacks have spiked and some legislators have received threats.
The ‘Marriage for All’ bill will now be sent to President FranÃ§ois Hollande to officially sign it into law.