France: President Francois Hollande signs equal marriage bill into law

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French President Francois Hollande, has signed into law a bill which allows equal marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples.

Following months of, sometimes violent, protests, and a substantial rise in homophobic attacks, President Hollande signed the law, making France the fourteenth country in the world to allow equal marriage.

Marriage equality opponents had hoped that challenging the bill before the Constitutional Council would scupper the bill after months of debate and protest.

However, on Friday, the Council declared: “The law allowing same-sex marriage conforms with the constitution.”

The first same-sex wedding is to take place in Montpellier, which is known as the “French San Francisco”, because of its large gay community, on 29 May. 

Opinion polls have showed a majority in favour of allowing equal marriage, less support adoption rights. The Council noted that adoption rights would not be automatic for same-sex couples, and would be assessed by the ”interest of the child”.

Late last month, the ruling Socialist party and their allies in the lower house of the National Assembly passed the bill 331 in favour – 225 against, giving same-sex couples the legal right to marry and adopt children.

After the vote, several politicians, including an openly-gay mayor, received bullets, and death threats in the post.

The Speaker of the National Assembly, Claude Bartolone, also received a threatening letter containing ammunition powder, asking him to delay the vote on equal marriage.

Socialist deputies Sylviane Bulteau and Hugues Fourage also received letters from anti-equal marriage extremists, which threatened their families with kidnap, the equal marriage bill was not withdrawn.

Following the vote, riot police charged several times to attempt to clear protesters from Les Invalides, however they were forced to move down to the banks of the river Seine, where more violent clashes took place.

President Hollande urged the country to move on after the divisive debate around equal marriage.

The Parliament of New Zealand recently passed a bill allowing same-sex couples to marry, becoming the thirteenth in the world,  and Uruguayan President Mujica, signed legislation on 3 May which gives same-sex couples in Uruguay the right to marry from 1 August.