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France: Bill to legalise gay marriage and same-sex adoption approved

The bill will allow same-sex couples to adopt as well as marry, putting France on track to join about a dozen other nations that allow gay marriage.

FILE: People demonstrate in support of the government project to legalize same-sex marriage and adoption for same-sex couples in Paris.
FILE: People demonstrate in support of the government project to legalize same-sex marriage and adoption for same-sex couples in Paris.
Image: AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere, File

FRANCE’S LOWER HOUSE of parliament approved a sweeping bill today to legalise gay marriage and allow same-sex couples to adopt children, handing a major legislative victory to President Francois Hollande’s Socialists on a divisive social issue.

The measure, approved in the National Assembly in a 329-to-229 vote, puts France on track to join about a dozen mostly European nations that allow gay marriage and comes despite a string of recent demonstrations by opponents of the so-called “marriage for all” bill.

The Assembly has been debating the bill, and voting on its individual articles in recent weeks. The overall legislation now goes in the coming weeks to the Senate, which also is controlled by the governing Socialists and their allies.

Legislative step

With today’s vote, France joins Britain in taking a major legislative step in recent weeks toward allowing gay marriage and adoption — making them the largest European countries to do so. The Netherlands, Belgium, Norway and Spain, as well as Argentina, Canada and South Africa have authorized gay marriage, along with nine US states and the District of Columbia.

“This law is going to extend to all families the protections guaranteed by the institution of marriage,” Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said before the vote.

Contrary to what those who vociferate against it say — fortunately they’re in the minority — this law is going to strengthen the institution of marriage.

As with many major and controversial reforms in France, the issue drew its share of political grandstanding over weeks of debate. Conservative opponents forced a discussion of nearly 5,000 amendments, a move derided by Socialists as inconsequential stalling tactics. But by the final vote, the government rank-and-file rolled out grand, solemn statements of victory.

However, the political right hasn’t given up just yet, saying the Constitutional Court — whose 12 members include three former French presidents and several other prominent conservatives — will determine whether the law, if finally passed, meshes with the law of the land.

The government didn’t get all it wanted. The Socialists last month backed off plans to link the gay marriage measure to relaxed restrictions on fertility treatments, after catching political heat for its stance on assisted reproduction. The issue is expected to come up in a separate bill later this year.

Read: British politicians vote in favour of same-sex marriage>

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Associated Press

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