French Senate backs same-sex marriage bill

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The French Senate has given its approval to a bill that would allow same-sex couples the right to marry and adopt.

“This law will allow gay people to no longer be clandestine in their families and in the Republic,” Family Minister Dominique Bertinotti said in the Senate on Friday.

AP reports the bill will formally become law in the coming months, once the French Parliament has reviewed a number of minor, technical amendments, and it has been formally signed by President Francois Hollande.

It means France will become the 13th country in the world to legalise equal marriage.

President Hollande’s government gave its formal approval to the bill last November.

Extending the right to marry and adopt to same-sex couples in France was one of President Hollande’s electoral pledges.

On Wednesday, the Senate approved the crucial first article of the bill.

Opinion polls suggest a majority of French people still support equal marriage but their numbers have fallen in recent months – possibly in light of the contentious nature of the debate by the opponents.

LGBT campaigners now say that homophobia and transphobia in French society has risen as a result.

On Wednesday, around 5,000 people took part in a demonstration in Paris, with placards saying: “Homophobia kills” and “Our love is stronger than your hate”.

Among them was Wilfred de Bruijn, a Paris librarian who suffered a violent anti-gay attack last weekend.

In March, around 300,000 same-sex marriage opponents took part in a vociferous rally in Paris.

“We expected opposition, but not to that extent,” said Dominique Boren, vice president of the Association of Gay and Lesbian Parents. “We’ve heard things about homosexuals we hadn’t heard in over 30 years.”

Meanwhile, several French lobby groups have complained the bill does not go far enough because it doesn’t legalise medically assisted procreation for same-sex couples.