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France lawmakers approve gay marriage

April 23, 2013|By Kim Willsher
  • Plastic figurines set up in front of the Palais Bourbon, the seat of the French National Assembly.
Plastic figurines set up in front of the Palais Bourbon, the seat of the French… (Joel Saget / Agence France-Presse…)

PARIS -- The French parliament on Tuesday approved a law allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt, voting after weeks of often angry debate and protests in the streets.

Members of the Socialist government chanted "equality, equality" and stood up to applaud as the result was announced.  The center-right opposition party immediately announced its intention to appeal the law, which was adopted by 331 votes against 225.

Justice Minister Christiane Taubira said the Constitutional Court would have one month to make a ruling on the appeal, meaning the first same-sex unions could take place in June.

The vote will make France the ninth nation in Europe and 14th worldwide to allow homosexual marriage.

Until the bitter end, opponents of the bill had hoped to force Socialist President Francois Hollande's government to renounce the legislation, even though he had pledged to see it passed during last year's election. Herve Mariton, a lawmaker with the center-right opposition Union for a Popular Movement, said passing the law was a "triple denial."

"This is a denial of democracy, an emotional denial and a moral denial," he said.

In recent weeks, there have been growing numbers of attacks on homosexual couples and gay bars in Paris and other major cities.  The figurehead of the opposition to what became known as the "marriage for all" bill, an actress calling herself Frigide Barjot -- a play on Brigitte Bardot -- claimed the attacks were carried out by troublemakers, known to the police, who had hijacked legitimate demonstrations.

Opponents called for a massive protest outside the French National Assembly for Tuesday evening, while pro-bill organizations called for celebration rallies.

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