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France

Paris police ban anti-gay marriage protest from Champs Elysées

media Virginie Merle, alias Frigide Barjot, with other opponents of same-sex … Reuters

Paris police have banned opponents of gay marriage from demonstrating on the world-famous Champs Elysées avenue on Sunday. Opponents of the government’s bill legalising same-sex marriage claim the move is political.

The self-styled “Demo for All” movement said Tuesday it would appeal against the Paris police’s ruling that it could not march down the Champs Elysées on Sunday 24 March, as it planned.

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The ban also extended to the Place de la Concorde and the Place de l’Etoile, at either end of the avenue, and Invalides, the vast space in front of Paris’s military museum and hospital, the organisers said in a statement.

The police announcement came after the failure of negotiations in which the anti-gay marriage activists refused to back down on their plan to march down the avenue, which is home to luxury hotels, shops and restaurants and a major tourist attraction.

One of the leaders of the movement, comedian Frigide Barjot, at one point declared that they would camp out on the avenue once the march was over.

Claiming that the ban is a “political decision dressed up as a police measure”, the organisers’ statement insisted that the demonstration would take place “but in a strictly legal context”.

The far-right Bloc identitaire, a small group which has hit headlines with wine and pork sausage picnics in districts with large Muslim populations, gave its backing to the Demo for All in a statement.

“The Champs Elysées belongs to the French, not the tourists!” it said.

And the leader of the mainstream right-wing UMP in parliament, Christian Jacob, linked the protest to the debate on taxing or means-testing family allowances.

Accusing President François Hollande of wanting to “smash family policy”, Jacob called on “all those French people who are attached, above and beyond the fight against marriage and adoption for homosexuals, to the defence of our family policy” to turn out on Sunday.

The bill has already been through its first reading in the lower house of parliament and goes before the Senate on 2 April.

A demonstration against it in Paris on 13 January brought hundreds of thousands onto the streets.

Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, who has piloted the legislation through parliament, on Tuesday told Libération newspaper that it should be “wrapped up” before the summer, or “at worst” in the autumn.

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