Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

'New York Post' slammed for publishing ISIS execution images

Read more

DEBATE

Back to Square One?

Read more

DEBATE

Israel-Gaza: Back to Square One?

Read more

DEBATE

Israel-Gaza conflict: 72-hour ceasefire deal sets stage for Cairo talks

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users divided over Darren Wilson

Read more

FOCUS

Spain's El Hierro to become world's first self-powered island

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

A bellwether for what not to do

Read more

ENCORE!

Luc Besson back in action with Scarlett Johansson in 'Lucy'

Read more

FOCUS

Israel's minorities and military service

Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

  • Brutal IS beheading video sparks social media pushback

    Read more

  • French village rallies behind besieged elderly British couple

    Read more

  • Netanyahu compares Hamas to IS, Gaza offensive to continue

    Read more

  • France’s ex-PM Juppé sets up presidential clash with Sarkozy

    Read more

  • France’s Hollande says global security ‘worst since 2001’

    Read more

  • France urges Iran, others in region, to join fight against IS

    Read more

  • A new view on Normandy landings, 70 years on

    Read more

  • Video: Dozens arrested despite smaller protests in Ferguson

    Read more

  • Dozens killed as landslides strike Japan’s Hiroshima

    Read more

  • Suspected Ebola cases in Austria, new drug raises hopes

    Read more

  • WWII anniversary highlights best - and worst - of Paris police

    Read more

  • Headscarf at the beach sparks French MEP’s fury

    Read more

  • Video: Life in under-siege Donetsk

    Read more

  • Racism, riots and police violence: USA under scrutiny

    Read more

France

French parliament legalises gay marriage, adoption

© Photo: AFP

Text by Joseph BAMAT

Latest update : 2013-04-23

The French parliament has approved a bill legalising gay marriage and adoption for same-sex couples in its final vote on the legislation. The landmark reform has been the source of months of heated debate and demonstrations.

French lawmakers on Tuesday extended marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples, making France the 14th country in the world to legalise gay marriage. The 331 to 225 vote was preceded by months of bitter –and sometimes violent– exchanges on the subject in parliament and in the streets.

The National Assembly first passed the so-called “Marriage for All” law in February. It had to give it a second and final reading on Tuesday, after the upper-house Senate approved the same bill with some amendments on April 12.

The landmark legislation was greeted by wild cheering from some and boos by others gathered outside the National Assembly. Opponents were scheduled to converge outside the building to protest the reform at 7pm, as they have been doing for the past several days.

“I hope people across the country will celebrate this moment,” said Martin Gaillard, a 31-year-old advocate of gay marriage, who admitted feeling stressed during the past weeks because of all the attention garnered by the law’s detractors.

“This remains a joyous day,” added Gaillard, whose “Projet Entourage LGBT” has sought to build support for gay marriage on the Internet for over two years.

He recalled that gay marriage had little political traction at the start of his project, but then became a hot topic of the 2012 presidential campaign. President François Hollande came to power last May promising to legalise marriage and adoption for same-sex couples.

Recent opinion polls show that a majority –between 53% and 58%– of people in France support gay marriage.

According to Yves-Marie Cann, of the French polling firm CSA, those figures have remained constant throughout months of controversy. However, he noted that the number of people against adoption by same-sex couples has risen in recent months, with 56% now opposed to the measure.

Violent confrontations

The months-long legislative process was closely followed by supporters and opponents of the bill, who staged massive rallies in Paris and around the country to either defend or try to defeat the historic bill.

The anti-gay marriage camp –a motley mix that includes traditional Catholic families, some members of the opposition UMP party and far-right groups– organised some of the largest marches seen in France in recent years.

CSA’s Cann said the issue had revealed a sharp ideological divide in French society, with more than 72% of right-wing sympathisers saying they were against the law.

As the bill neared a final vote, some opponents adopted a hardline approach, leading to violent confrontations with police on Paris’s iconic Champs Elysées in late March.

Meanwhile, rights groups said they had documented a significant rise in attacks targeting gays and LGBT-friendly businesses, and accused the so-called peaceful protests of trivialising hateful homophobic speech. On the eve of the vote, National Assembly president Claude Bartolone received a letter filled with gunpowder warning him to delay it.

Frustrations also spilled over inside parliament, where quarrelling MP’s allegedly threw punches and had to be separated by security last week.

An evolving process

Opponents pledged to keep fighting the marriage reform despite its passing. Just hours before the vote, opposition MP Henri Guaino told France Inter radio that he would continue joining protests until Hollande called a referendum on the issue.

Guaino nevertheless admitted that it would be very difficult to reverse the law once it went into effect and after same-sex couples began to wed.

Other lawmakers said they would immediately request that the law be scrutinised by France’s Constitutional Council, while others said they would repeal it as soon as conservatives regained a majority in parliament. Leaders of the anti-gay marriage marches announced they would consider running in mayoral elections next year.

Gaillard, the gay-marriage activist, said the legislative victory was somewhat anticlimactic. “I feel like this is part of an evolving process; this is clearly the direction France needs to move in. The impression I have is that we are finally catching up.”

France is now the ninth European country to legalise gay marriage, joining Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, Portugal, as well as neighbouring Belgium and Spain.

Questioned as to what would become of Projet Entourage LGBT –now that gay marriage was no longer an idea but a reality– Gaillard said his group was considering turning its attention to championing access to in vitro fertilisation for same-sex couples or supporting teen victims of homophobia. For now, he said he was only sure he would be catching up on some hard-earned rest.

Date created : 2013-04-23

  • FRANCE

    Warning sent to politician as gay marriage vote nears

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    French PM urges calm ahead of final gay marriage vote

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Parisians decry homophobia as gay-marriage law nears

    Read more

COMMENT(S)