France shelves 'family diversity' law after protests by tens of thousands

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 February, 2014, 9:32pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 February, 2014, 3:56am


France's Socialist government has put off plans for a new family law after street demonstrations by tens of thousands against it.

A source in Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault's office said on Monday the government would no longer present a bill this year that officials had said was aimed at modernising the law to reflect the new "diversity" of families.

The bill would have made moves toward recognising the rights of step-parents.

Officials had said it would not tackle more contentious issues like surrogacy or assisted reproduction for lesbian couples, but opposition had, nonetheless, grown. Tens of thousands took to the streets of Paris and other cities on Sunday to denounce what they said was an attack on traditional family values.

Organisers said half a million protesters turned out in Paris alone, though police put the number at about 100,000.

The protesters also denounced last year's French law legalising gay marriage and the adoption of children by homosexual couples.

Ludovine de la Rochere, the head of the Manif Pour Tous [Protest for All] movement that organised the demonstrations, said the government's decision was a victory for the conservative movement.

"What was outlined in this bill was not conducive to the interests of children or the family," she said.

The head of the government's Green Party coalition allies, Emmanuelle Cosse, urged the Socialists to reconsider.

"This renunciation, a day after the mobilisation of the reactionary camp, is appalling," Cosse said.

A source in the prime minister's office said preparatory work for the family law was under way but that a "dense parliamentary calendar" would not allow it to be presented this year.