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French police arrest dozens of anti-gay activists outside National Assembly


PARIS — French police arrested dozens of anti-gay marriage protestors on Monday after they tried to set up a campsite outside the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, in advance of next week’s planned final vote on the country’s marriage equality law.

The government sped up the approval process with a decision on Monday to call a final vote on the gay marriage legislation on April 23, weeks earlier than initially planned, reported Reuters.

The Senate upper house of parliament, which like the National Assembly, is dominated by President Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party and its allies, backed the bill last week, after which a final parliamentary vote was slated to take place in late May.

The bill, is approved, would grant same-sex couple marriage and adoption rights.

Same-sex marriage opponents have called for new demonstrations against the proposed law, and with the passing of the legislation becoming increasingly likely, those against the bill have ramped up their actions in recent weeks, with many demonstrations leading to clashes with police.

Last week, anti-gay marriage activists went on the attack after the bill passed in the Senate, firing off violent rhetoric that gay rights activists said were encouraging violence.

French activist Frigide Barjot, leader of the Manif pour tous (Demo for all), France’s mainstream anti-gay marriage movement, said French President Francois Hollande “wants blood, and he will get it.”

Centre-right UMP deputy Christian Jacob joined the fray, saying in a statement that by accelerating the bill’s now almost certain passage into law, “the President of the Republic is risking a violent confrontation with the French people.”

Gay rights activists point to a recent attack on a gay couple in Paris as evidence of their claim that homophobic acts have tripled nationwide over opposition to the marriage equality law.

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