ROME — Following large pro-family protests on Feb. 2, the French government announced the following day that it would postpone a proposed bill that threatened to legalize assisted procreation for lesbian couples and surrogate motherhood for homosexual men who wanted children.

The development came after large rallies were held in Paris and Lyon in support of marriage and the traditional family on Sunday, as well as similar protests in Brussels, Bucharest, Madrid, Warsaw and Rome .

The protests were led and inspired by La Manif Pour Tous (Protest for Everyone), a rapidly growing French group of associations that launched in January 2013 with a massive rally in Paris against same-sex “marriage” legislation. Despite the outcry, France passed the legislation.

Police said 80,000 people took to the streets of the French capital on Feb. 2, although La Manif Pour Tous put the figure much higher, closer to half a million. At least 20,000 are reported to have marched in Lyon.

The French protesters were marching against a raft of policies being pushed through by President Francois Hollande. Since imposing same-sex “marriage” on the French last year, the current government has been promoting legislation in favor of medically assisted procreation techniques for lesbian couples, in vitro fertilization, a further relaxation of abortion laws and an experimental school program aimed at “combating gender stereotypes.”

Interior Minister Manuel Valls warned that “no excesses” would be tolerated during the marches and ordered a heavy security presence, although the protests — primarily made up of families with young children in strollers — mostly proceeded peacefully.

Jean-Pierre Delaume-Myard, spokesman for La Manif Pour Tous, who is also same-sex attracted, told Vatican Radio on Jan. 31 that children are the “first victims” of same-sex “marriage.”

“It deprives them of a father and a mother,” he said. “The desire to have a child by a homosexual cannot justify any kind of solution to fill this gap. Every child has the right to have a father and a mother.”

Delaume-Myard said the legislation to redefine marriage  — known as the “Taubira law” — was imposed on the French people by repressing public opposition (the European Court of Human Rights is currently investigating the charge). He argued that the “majority of homosexuals had never asked for such a thing,” and the proof is that “civil unions” have existed in France for years and yet only 4% of homosexuals have ever opted for them. “So homosexuals have never asked for gay marriage, let alone children,” he said.

Medically assisted procreation and surrogate pregnancies, he added, are “even worse,” as they regard women and children as commodities.


Elsewhere in Europe

Beyond France, the protesters were marching on Sunday against the Lunacek Report on equality, with regards to sexual orientation and gender identity in Europe. The report calls for a new European Union “road map to combat ‘homophobia’” and demands that special rights for homosexual persons should now be considered human rights. It also calls on the European Commission to promote “equality and nondiscrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity throughout its youth and education programs.”

La Manif Pour Tous Italy held a rally of its own on Feb. 2 in solidarity with its French counterpart. Coincidentally, it took place on the same day as Italy’s Day for Life. During his Feb. 2 Angelus address, Pope Francis sent his greetings and encouragement to those committed to the defense of life from its conception to its natural end.

The Rome rally was principally a demonstration against the Lunacek Report and other similar legislative efforts currently on the statute books in Italy. La Manif Pour Tous Italy’s director, Jacopo Coghe, said the protest was “to affirm that we will not be instruments of violence and destruction.”

“We will defend the family, paying in person, if necessary,” he said, adding that it filled him with pride and courage to see so many young people and families present. “This is the only possible future for Italy and France.”

“The family is being targeted in the European Parliament, where laws that do not take into account the reality [of the traditional family] are being approved,” he continued. “So I would like to tell MEPs [members of the European Parliament] in a loud voice that Italy also defends the family and marriage between a man and a woman and strongly rejects the Lunacek plan.”

He added, in regards to the actions undertaken by the French chapter of the pro-family group: “We Italians, also moved by your example and by your courage, are mobilizing to defend these values. We continue to support each other in this line of defense, because only the union between a man and a woman can form a stable construct that is the family, the place par excellence of solidarity and acceptance.”


Fielding Candidates

La Manif Pour Tous, which argues that marriage between a man and a woman is a “civil and anthropological value” that goes “beyond different cultural and religious positions,” hopes to field candidates in upcoming municipal and European elections.  

Together with the latest qualified victory in France, this shows how far the movement has come in just 12 months. Given the burgeoning support across the continent, it promises to advance considerably in the years ahead.

Edward Pentin is the Register’s Rome correspondent.