Thursday, April 4, 2013

Mass demonstrations to preserve marriage are continuing in spite of pressure

In spite of pressure, mass demonstrations to preserve marriage are continuing. A new massive demonstration took place on Sunday in Paris, France, against the legislative proposal to legalize marriage and adoption for same-sex couples. While official police statements spoke of an estimated 300,000 protesters, the organizers said that some 1.4 million people took part in the demonstration. Even though the media try to frame the demonstrations in negative ways and the police (under the French Ministry of Internal Affairs) tries to forge the real number of protestors, the French people are determined that the institute of marriage and the children’s rights need to remain protected.

(Article by Leo van Doesburg and Jonathan van Tongeren)

1.  Forgery in the real number of demonstrators
The first strange thing we noticed is the communication about the number of participants in the demonstrations. The crowd of an earlier demonstration in January was also estimated by the Paris police at some 300,000, but this number was severely disputed in several media afterwards as pictures of the event clearly demonstrated that far more people had been present. It seems that the government is seeking to consequently play down the number of participants in these demonstrations. This impression is reinforced by divergent numbers being mentioned by national security services and the local police and by aerial photos.

2.  The excessive use of violence against peaceful demonstrators
The second thing was the use of violence against the demonstrators by the police. When some of the demonstrators last Sunday tried to enter onto the Champs Elysées the police tried to withhold them by using tear gas and batons. This excessive use of violence against peaceful demonstrators has been condemned by several leading political figures. Among those affected by the tear gas were members of parliament and even children and elderly. Christine Boutin, president of the Christian Democratic Party (PCD), was also among the victims. There was clearly no need for this violence on the part of the police. Many media abused this excessive violence to blame the demonstrators.

3. Neglecting the voice of millions of French demonstrators based on a false claim for majority
The third issue is the continuous claim of the French Government that the majority of the population is in favor of marriage and adoption for same-sex couples and the complete ignoral of the demonstrators. While around a million people marched in the streets, the government simply dismissed their outcry by stating that the proposal of law has the support of the majority of the French population. A statement that can easily be disputed when looking at the precise outcomes of opinion polls, which certainly do not show majority approval of legalisation of adoption by same sex couples. The government also shows an unwillingness to engage in an open debate or to actually consult the population by holding a referendum on this important topic.

4.  Labeling the demonstrations as “Catholic-led demonstrations”
The fourth is the description of the demonstration in the media as a “Roman Catholic led demonstration” in certain media completely ignoring the fact that along with Roman Catholics, Protestant, Muslim and Jewish religious leaders have also opposed the bill, which already passed the lower house of parliament and is expected to be approved by the senate next month.  Besides that, many organizations and citizens with all kinds of different religious and political affiliations took to the streets to protect traditional marriage and the right of children to be raised by a mother and a father. The bill is furthermore not only opposed by politicians from the right of the political spectrum, but also by many from the centre and some individuals from the left that supports the current government.

It is encouraging to see what is happening in France. Many different people and organisations coming together in massive demonstrations for the protection of marriage and children's rights cannot be ignored any longer. Even when the government tries to downplay the significance by underestimating the number of people that turned out and even when the press tries to subjectively influence people's opinion by attempting to portray the protesters as merely consisting of fringe groups, or being ‘against gay rights’ (on the Romanian news Antena1 they even called it "homophobic").

It is striking though what lengths the French government will go to, to downplay the significance of these demonstrations while at the same time trying to portray the participants as extremists. It is in fact a unique occurrence that so many people take to the streets to demonstrate for a cause, and several times at that! It can hardly be taken seriously that all these hundreds of thousands of people would be extremists or homophobes. The massive turnout rather demonstrates that people will accept much from a majority government, but they will not accept that the definition of marriage, let alone the definition of parenthood is altered. It is striking that proposals that strike at the core of the natural family are made in several West-European countries at about the same time, and in the middle of an economic crisis on top of that, when there are many other issues pressing for the immediate consideration of the government.
A similar situation, in which a government proposed the legalisation of gay marriage in the midst of economic crisis, occurred in the UK where Conservative prime minister Cameron’s coalition government suddenly proposed a new law to legalize same-sex marriage, even though this was not in the Conservative Party election manifesto and is opposed by large parts of his own party, including many members of parliament. Is this part of a trend, that governments are trying to focus on these social issues in order to lead the general public’s attention away from unpopular economic measures necessary to tackle the ongoing economic crisis?

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