Thousands of people in Mexico took to the streets to show their opposition to the proposed legalization of same-sex marriage.
At least 215,000 people joined the protest early this month. Authorities have not confirmed the number of people who participated, but it was considered as one of the largest protest gatherings seen in the country in recent years.
"I think it was something unprecedented, the awakening of the society of Queretaro in defense of the family," said Jose Alcantara from the National Front for the Family, which organized the event.
Alcantara said the group had gathered more than 100,000 signatures petitioning that the proposal be dismissed.
The protesters wore white, carried balloons and waved banners that were against gay marriage, such as “an adopted child deserves a mother and a father," CBN News reported.
However, the National Front for the Family, which organized the event, clarified they were not opposed to LGBT rights. The purpose for the protest is to defend marriage and family values, which they say are being threatened.
Mexican Pres. Enrique Pena Nieto has announced in May that he plans to change the constitution in order to make same-sex marriage legal in the country. At present, it is legal only in some areas, including Mexico City and nine out of 31 states.
National Front for the family spokesman Mario Alberto Romo said in a democratic country like Mexico, the government “cannot impose a single thought,” BBC reported.
Some church leaders also joined the demonstration. Evangelical pastor Abraham Ledesma from Reynosa said they are not against any person’s sexual identity.
"What we are against is the government imposition ... of trying to impose gender ideology in education. As religious leaders, we don't want to be forced to marry same-sex couples and call it marriage,” he explained.
The protesters demanded a meeting with the president to discuss the issue.
The population of Mexico is predominantly Catholic. The recent protest is being viewed as the Catholic Church’s way of showing its political muscle.
In June, the Supreme Court ruled that banning same-sex marriage in some states was unconstitutional. However, Parliament has not submitted an official legislation for gay marriage.
About a few hundred LGBT rights activists staged a gathering beside the anti-gay marriage demonstration to show their support for the president’s proposal to legalize same-sex marriage. However, with them showing only a small number of participants, it looked like the other group dominated the scene.
“They may be the majority,” teacher and gay activist Felipe Quirox told Fox News. “But just because they are the majority, doesn’t mean they can take rights away from minorities. That would lead us to a dark period, to fundamentalism.”
Pope Francis expressed his support for those who were against gay marriage “in favour of family and life, which in these times require special pastoral and cultural attention around the world."