French Senate Adopts Bill Supporting Gay Marriage

French Senate

The bill on granting homos*xual couples the right to marry and adopt is on track to become law after a vote favoured the bill at France’s upper house Senate on Friday, after a heated debate and protests from conservatives and religious groups.

Senators had on Wednesday approved the crucial first article of the bill granting gay couples the right to marry and to adopt, by a vote of 179 to 157.

Justice minister Christiane Taubira hailed the Senate vote, saying it had strengthened French society “by granting the simple recognition of full citizenship to homos*xual couples”.

The bill came under vehement attack in a country that is officially secular but predominantly Catholic, mobilizing hundreds of thousands of people in pro- and anti-gay marriage protests nationwide. In January, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators flooded into Paris for an anti-gay marriage march.

Last month, police were forced to fire tear gas on people protesting the bill, and dozens were arrested.

Opponents had said they would organise another mass protest in Paris on May 26 if the law was approved, to demand its withdrawal and a referendum on gay marriage.

The bill was largely supported by the ruling Socialists, their allies in the Green Party and the Communists, and opposed by the main opposition UMP and other right-wing parties.

“We are overwhelmed with pride by this vote to move our society forward,” said the head of the Socialists in the Senate, Francois Rebsamen. But opponents slammed the adoption of the bill, with right-wing former PM Jean-Pierre Raffarin saying it would cause a “rupture” in society. Opposition to the bill has been forceful and gay activists and rights groups say reports of verbal and physical assaults against homos*xuals have surged amid the debate. [AFP]

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