France: Montpellier on high alert as first same-sex couple get ready to marry

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The French city of Montpellier is on high alert for the country’s first ever same-sex wedding, which is to take place later today, as supporters gear up for the landmark ceremony, and police are on high alert due to threats against the city’s mayor.

Vincent Autin, a 40-year-old PR firm head, and his partner Bruno Boileau , a 29-year-old government worker, told the AFP that they were aware of the potential public impact of the ceremony.

The couple have been together for over five years, and will wed at 17:50 local time in the town hall. The ceremony was moved to a larger room, as the couple’s 200 friends and family, as well as 300 guests and 150 journalists, and government representatives, would not have fit in the regular function room.

Speaking to AllOut, of which they are both members, the couple said: “We’re in love and today, at last, we’re getting married. Thanks to everyone who signed the petition and took a stand for love and equality. Now, let’s celebrate love.”

“We will make this wedding an occasion for everyone. It will be public, open to all activists, to heads of French and international [gay lobby] groups, to the press,” Vincent said.

Hélène Mandroux, the Socialist mayor and same-sex marriage advocate, who is to perform the ceremony this afternoon, received threats ahead of today, including by telephone, when one man told her to “get bodyguards”.

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

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

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

On Sunday, at the end of a day of tense, but relatively peaceful anti-equal marriage protests, which saw tens of thousands take to the streets of Paris, riot police clashed with hundreds of violent demonstrators.