Tens of thousands of people opposed to legalising same sex-marriage and gay adoption in France have marched through the streets of Paris.

In July, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault promised to legalise same-sex marriage and gay adoption in the country within a year.

“In the first half of 2013, the right to marriage and adoption will be open to all couples, without discrimination,” Ayrault told parliament.

The plans, however, appear to have divided the country.

On Saturday, conservative and religious groups, backed largely by the French Catholic Church, took part in the more than 70,000 strong “March for Everyone”.

Protestors opposed to the pro-gay legislation, many wearing blue, white and pink, held up signs proclaiming: ”one father one mother for all children.”

Around 22,000 also protested in the city of Lyon, and another 8,000 marched in the city Marseille.

As the protests were taking place in France, in the Vatican, Pope Benedict expressed his support for the protestors’ efforts and said that “the Church’s voice must make itself heard relentlessly and with determination”.

While polls show that the majority of French people support gay marriage, the right for gays and lesbians to adopt is less widely backed.

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