French National Assembly agrees same-sex marriage and adoption measures
Hollande introduces biggest social reform since abolition of death penalty in 1981
French humorist and TV host Virginie Merle, spokesperson for “La Manif pour Tous” (Demonstration for All) group who protest against France’s legalisation of same-sex marriage, shouts at a demonstration in Paris yesterday.
The French parliament yesterday approved a law allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt children, a flagship reform pledge by president Francois Hollande which sparked street protests and a rise in homophobic attacks.
Hollande’s “marriage for all” law is the biggest social reform in France since his left-wing mentor and predecessor Francois Mitterrand abolished the death penalty in 1981, a move which also split the nation.
Members of the lower house National Assembly, where Hollande’s Socialists have a majority, passed the bill by 331 votes for to 225 against, making France the 14th country in the world to allow same-sex couples to wed.
“Many French people will be proud this job is done,” justice minister Christiane Taubira told parliament. “Those protesting today will find themselves moved by the joy of the newly-weds.”
Yet the episode has carried a political price for an already unpopular president. Critics said Hollande should focus on fixing the economy, while opponents have demanded a referendum and protests against it descended into violence.
The debate is also blamed for fanning a spate of homophobic attacks, including the beating up of a 24-year-old in the southern city of Nice on Saturday. Interior minister Manuel Valls warned this week of “zero tolerance” for such violence.
France, a mainly Catholic country, follows 13 others including Canada, Denmark, Sweden and most recently Uruguay and New Zealand in letting gay and lesbian couples tie the knot. In the United States, Washington DC and nine states have legalised same-sex marriage.
French polls showed more than half the country backed Hollande’s gay marriage law.