Half-naked nuns were attacked by anti-gay marriage protestors in France on Sunday (18 November).
Ukraine-based feminist group FEMEN staged a topless counter-protest of an anti-gay marriage march in Paris where they became victims of violence by Catholic activists.
Painting ‘In Gay We Trust’ on their naked breasts, the ‘nuns’ sprayed powdered ‘sperm’ while chanting pro-gay slogans.
French feminist writer Caroline Fourest told the Associated Foreign Press that when FEMEN moved toward the demonstrators, the anti-gay protestors ‘ran after them, raging’ and were punched and hit by thrown objects by their pursuers.
She claimed the protestors also lashed out at journalists who were filming the violent scene. Police said they made five arrests after the incident.
Anti-gay protestor Alain Escada, a member of the Catholic group Civitas, said: ‘Our goal is to conduct a real battle for the preservation of the family and children.
‘Gay marriage is a Pandora’s box that will allow others to demand the legalization of polygamy and incest.’
President Francois Hollande’s government, who is pushing forward with a gay marriage and adoption bill, sharply criticized the aggression.
Government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said: ‘There is no place for the extreme right’s acts of aggression in our country.’
Family Minister Dominique Bertinotti said violence was ‘intolerable’ and went against French values.
‘We cannot tolerate violence, homophobic sentiments, they are punishable under the law,’ she said on Europe 1 radio.
In 1999, roughly the same number of people came out to demonstrate against the French government’s plans to legalize same-sex and opposite-sex PACS civil unions. However these actions did not change the plans of the government.
Hollande supported in bringing in marriage equality legislation in October, calling the policy ‘marriage for everyone’. The bill is expected to pass in early 2013.
France is also considering removing gendered language in the parenting of children in its civil code, changing ‘mother’ and ‘father’ to ‘parent 1’ and ‘parent 2’.
Gay rights groups have also criticized the bill for not including medical assisted procreation, such as insemination for lesbian couples.
However Hollande has said there could be alterations to the law as it goes through parliament.