As French troops battled Islamist rebels in Mali, hundreds of thousands of their countrymen had gay marriage on their minds instead. Huge crowds joined a rally next to the Eiffel tower yesterday to protest the government's plans to give gay people the right to marry and to adopt children, the BBC reports. Organizers claimed 800,000 people turned up but police say the figure was closer to 340,000—fewer than had been predicted, but still the biggest protest Paris has seen in at least a decade.
Francois Hollande's Socialist Party said the "substantial" turnout would have no effect on his plans to fulfill his campaign promise and make France the 12th country to legalize gay marriage. "The right to protest is protected in our country, but the Socialists are determined to give the legal right to marry and adopt to all those who love each other," the party's leader said. "This is the first time in decades in our country that the right and the extreme right are coming into the streets together to deny new rights to the French."