Tens of thousands of families rallied Saturday in Rome to pressure Italian Parliament to reject legislation that would grant new rights to same-sex and other unmarried couples.
The Cabinet of Prime Minister Romano Prodi passed the legislation at the center of the debate in February, and the bill now requires parliamentary approval.
The "Family Day" rally drew unexpected hundreds of thousands of demonstrators. It was organized by lay Roman Catholic groups and family associations. Though the demonstration was endorsed by Italian bishops, neither the Vatican nor the Italian bishops' conference was behind it.
People from across Italy gathered in the massive St. John Lateran piazza. The demonstrators were entertained by singers, speakers and a brief video featuring the late Pope John Paul II speaking in 1988 about the need to protect the traditional family.
Clowns and stilt-walkers mingled with the crowd to entertain the children.
By the end of the day, organizers said as 1.5 million people had shown up, though police did not give a final estimate. Earlier, police had put the growing number of participants at 250,000.