French Senate vote in support of same-sex marriage

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Saturday, April 13, 2013

France's upper house voted yesterday to approve a bill to allow same-sex marriage to be legal following protests for and against the bill. The bill also makes it legal for gay couples to adopt children, and is scheduled to return to the lower house next Wednesday.

The bill is being supported by the ruling Socialist party and by President Hollande, as well as by the Communists and Greens. Hollande's justice minister Christiane Taubira said it would "move our institutions towards ever more freedom, equality and personal respect" and would strengthen French society "by granting the simple recognition of full citizenship to homosexual couples". The leader of the Socialist party in the Senate, François Rebsamen, welcomed the passage of the bill: "We are overwhelmed with pride by this vote to move our society forward". France has civil unions which have been available to both gay and straight couples since 1999.

Opponents of the bill have held demonstrations in Paris, with an estimated 340,000 people protesting at the Eiffel Tower in January. Supporters of the bill responded by having a march with an estimated 125,000 people in attendance. The gay rights group SOS Homophobie said that they had seen a rise in homophobic attacks recently, claiming that assaults against gay people had risen by 30% since 2011.

Controversy arose earlier this week as Larousse, publishers of the French dictionary, announced that the 2014 edition of the dictionary would change the listing for 'marriage' to include same sex as well as opposite sex couples. Members of the right wing UMP have responded to the change with outrage, with UMP politician Hervé Mariton calling for a boycott. Larousse noted that the changed the definition based on usage rather than based on the legal status of same sex marriage.


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