Saturday, 2 February 2013

Today's anti-gay marriage demo in Lyon shows that the movement is beginning to lose the battle

The anti-gay marriage lobby took to the streets of Lyon today for the second time in three months to demonstrate against government plans to legalise same-sex marriage, so I walked downtown to take a few photos.

It was a static demonstration, in front of City Hall, and the area directly in front of the building was full of the movement's characteristic blue, pink and white flags.

The atmosphere was rather 'bon enfant', and there were many families present. Here's one baby demonstrator, at the outer edge of the crowd. There were a number of other baby buggys too, most of which had babies in them, although a few others contained teddy bears or baby dolls.

Also on the sidelines were older people who obviously preferred the view from nearby steps to being caught in the crush below.

But these enterprising young ladies managed to get a good view as well as being close to the centre of the crowd. They are clinging to the railings of City Hall. Their first 'Bastille Moment'?

These people are signing an anti-gay marriage petition. As soon as I had taken this picture I was shouted at by a couple of very angry women who claimed that I was breaking anti-privacy laws. They demanded that I delete the photo, which I politely declined to do. After all, if people don't want other people to to take photos of people's bums people signing a petition in a public place then they should close off the table to public view, *harrumph snort*

Here's a photo of people using their constitutional right to stand in front of City Hall and make a lot of noise. The building's walls remained mute and unbending however, that which quite aptly and symbolically illustrates the government's refusal to bow to pressure from the street.

This view is dominated by the proudly imposing façade of Lyon's Opera House. Note the arches.

Behind the arches, and in the Opera's outer foyer, the teenagers who use this space daily as a place to work their Hip-Hop moves to the music of their ghetto blasters chose to totally ignore what was happening on the other side of the arches and carry on with business as usual. Top marks to them! These kids are a part of Opera life and the Opera's staff appreciate their respect for passers by as well as the efforts they make to keep the volume at a reasonable level. They are a credit to this city.

This demonstration was attended by 1800 people according to police figures in local press reports this evening, and the participants were certainly enthusiastic, but their efforts could not hide the fact that the event had a rather forlorn 'last ditch effort' feel about it. After all, the last anti-gay marriage demonstration here, on November 17 last year, attracted well over 20,000 marchers. (this is my photo-illustrated record of it for anyone interested.)

But the fire and high emotions of that day will not be seen again, because the gay-mariage law proposal is now being formally debated in parliament, and the general consensus is that the law is almost certain to be voted as it stands, without any major amendments. And that possibility took yet another step towards becoming reality this morning when parliament approved the law's first - and by far the most important, as it enshrines the right to gay marriage - article by a crushing majority of 249 votes to 97.

The anti-gay marriage lobby's cause is now all but lost, and I doubt I'll need to go to any more of their demonstrations. Their will is still strong despite the rapidly dwindling numbers of demonstators, but the facts are even stronger.

Still, not to worry, this being France there's bound to be another demonstration in Lyon soon, on another issue, and I'll be there to cover it and post the results here.

Have an excellent weekend everyone.


  1. Another wonderful glimpse of France through your eyes. The demonstration in Paris only had around 1,000 people according to MSN news.
    Lyon is a pretty city. Did you follow the "Paul Bocuse" competition by any chance? France won; the US was seventh. I know about it because of Facebook. I don't think it has been on the news at all here unfortunately!

  2. Yes the French love a good demonstration. I would always listen to the radio in Paris when I visited my mum to see where there would be a demonstration in Paris that day so I could avoid the area. I would enjoy going to the Opera in Lyon – I looked at their program. From 21 to 23 February they have “Espagne – Concerts – Flamenco” I’d love to see that as I have never seen live flamenco, have you?

  3. Hi Nadege and Vagabonde! (Yup, it's just before 3am here but I feel wide awake.)

    Yes I do know about the Bocuse victory in Lyon Nadege. I posted an article a few days ago about Mayor Collombe being very upset that this city was not to be chosen as the world's culinary capital, but at least he got some solace out of this award. I'm happy for him because he's a good mayor. I like people who are capable of saying it like it is and not hiding behind hypocritical PC niceties, and he is one of them.

    And on the subject of French food, was it you who emailed me with a link to an article about the Englishman who recently won the Best Cheese Platter award in France? I've goddam gone an' lost that darn email thing days ago cuz I aint so email organised as maybe my momma would'a liked me to be?! :)

    And as to the Opera of Lyon Vagabonde, I am very attached to it. It's a landmark here and I am lucky enough to have worked with a good number of the staff there in the course of my work. I'm glad you like the programme and if ever you get over to Lyon let me know and I'll book tickets!

    Oh, and the Flamenco? Have I ever seen it? You bet I have. I used to live near the Spanish border and would often go to Spain for evenings out and short holidays. That's when I discovered the Flamenco, live. And I was quite simply left speechless by it. The Flamenco faithfully relates the visceral reality which underpins society - that of the eternal dance of lust, love, and our natural instinct to bond.

    Funnily enough though, the most entrancing Flamenco dance I ever saw was performed not in Spain, but in France, by a relatively unknown couple who did a show in a bar in Canet Plage, down by the border. I was totally transfixed by the savage beauty of their art.

    I still remember the vivid emotions I experienced as I drove home after the bar had closed.

    Full of images of how we articulate our eternal struggle to reconcile base instincts and society, love and hate, seduction, acceptance and rejection, the whole of human life is to be seen in the Flamenco....

  4. Yes, I sent you the link to the englishman who won the cheese competition. I have been on the computer too much since my surgery. I can't wait to get away from electronics and go back to work.

    1. Ah, so it was you. If I had read it earlier I would have written about it, but by the time I could it was a couple of days old. Oh well, worse things happen at sea! I hope all's well in America..

  5. What would some people do without demonstrations? I remember getting involved in one a couple of years back in Angouleme. I had visitors, and was taking them to see the fair city only to find the police had barred off all the roads I knew and wanted to use. Not only was I confused but the satnav was even more so!!

    The opera house looks beautiful. Keep well Diane

    1. Yup, the French sure like to demonstrate. Still, although things can get a little rough sometimes - I've been hit by falling CS canisters on two occasions and threatened for photographing protesters, for example - in the main they're relatively violence free, particularly compared to what can and has happened in Britain and Germany over the years, and, latterly, Greece.

      As to your problems with Satnav Diane, you'll get no sympathy here I'm afraid. :) I'm a big believer in maps and Satnav leads to all kinds of problems, like in that unbelievable story I read and posted on here recently. Maps are the future I tell thee!

      Have an excellent day.

  6. I love #1 on this list. I am totally a victim of this. When I started creating goals around my blog I noticed the quality of my content drop month after month. It wasn’t because I stopped caring what I was publishing… it was simply that my focus was geared towards specific numbers and metrics rather than what you describe as “actions.”
    Because of this #3 and #5 started failing big-time as well and thus a spiral effect began. Thank you very much for this insight. The big thing I’m taking away from this is… to start focusing more on “actions” again!
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