The City of Lights became a little less romantic for the LGBT community: Hundreds of thousands of protestors amassed at the Eiffel Tower on Sunday for a march against the government’s proposed marriage-equality legislation.
Protests have been going on throughout the country since French President Francois Hollande swore to legalize same-sex marriage. Though organizers at the Paris rally boasted of some 800,000 participants, police estimates put the number at 340,000, which still makes it one of the largest demonstrations in recent Paris history. (A smaller counter-demonstration attracted several thousand nearby.)
“The French are tolerant, but they are deeply attached to the family and the defense of children,” said Daniel Liechti of the National Council of French Evangelicals.
Liechti and other gay-marriage opponents claim same-sex marriage would harm children: “We have nothing against different ways of living, but we think that a child must grow up with a mother and a father,” said another demonstrator.
President Hollande has promised to put forth the legislation, which would also allow gay couples to adopt, by June. Polls show support for marriage equality slipping in France, with only 55% supporting it now—compared to 65% in August.