FRENCH president Francois Hollande’s government has called for an end to violent protests against a same-sex marriage bill being debated in parliament, warning those behind a rise in homophobic assaults would be punished.
Mr Hollande’s initiative to allow same-sex couples to tie the knot – the most significant social reform undertaken since France banned the death penalty in 1981 – has split the nation and sparked huge protests both for and against the law.
As the lower house of parliament prepares for a final vote on the law next week, the “anti” protests have turned violent and police have noted a rise in homophobic assaults.
In one such attack, a gay bar in the northern city of Lille was wrecked on Wednesday night by four men shouting homophobic insults, leaving several people with injuries.
“They came to beat up gays – that’s exactly how they phrased it,” said the proprietor of the bar.