There were many celebrations in France during the evening of Tuesday 23rd April and that date will go down in history as the day that the large European country became the 14th nation in the world to legalize marriage laws for same-sex couples.
The French National Assembly in Paris passed the equal marriage bill on Tuesday afternoon with 331 MP’s voting in favour of the bill, 225 against and there were 10 abstentions. According to many, the country could see the first gay marriages taking place towards the end of June.
The new legislation also awards adoption rights for same-sex couples, is expected to be approved by the Constitutional Council and then rapidly signed into law by President Francois Hollande, who made it a manifesto pledge whilst he was trying to become president and is a keen supporter of equality.
“I hope people across the country will celebrate this moment,” marriage equality campaigner Martin Gaillard told the media.
Justice Minister Christiane Taubira told legislators on Tuesday evening the law was “very beautiful reform.”
The good news from Paris has been welcomed by many gay groups throughout Europe, Evelyne Paradis, executive director of ILGA-Europe, said: “We congratulate the French parliamentarians and the French nation for this historic step. The country whose motto is ‘Liberté, égalité, fraternité’ has finally fully applied it to all citizens when it comes to marriage.
“We also hope that this latest development in France will inspire other European countries to take concrete steps to eliminate discrimination and to ensure equal rights to same-sex partners and their families.”
“Equality cannot be partial, if a country is serious about equality for same-sex partners and their families, it means removing all legal obstacles and differences, it means equal access to marriage and adoption entitlement.”
I am delighted for my French brothers and sisters that will now have the opportunity to tie the knot in public, in front of their friends and family. It is a great step forward, not just for the gay population of France, but also for gay people all around the world. Slowly and surly marriage equality is coming to many countries and the more nations that legalize same-sex marriage the easier it will be to campaign in favour of equality. No longer can those that oppose marriage equality be able to say it will destabilise and cause the destruction of traditional marriage values, as just even a courtesy glance at the 14 nations that allow same-sex marriage, prove otherwise. Change is coming, marriage equality is coming, one nation at a time!
President Francois Hollande of France has publicly condemned the displays of homophobic violence that have occurred in the country over the recent days and weeks at an alarming rate.
“Homophobic acts, violent acts have been committed. The right to protest is recognised by our constitution and accepted by the French. But no protest must degenerate,” said President Hollande on Thursday 18th April, speaking after France’s Interior Ministry had confirmed that four people had been detained on suspicion of carrying out a vicious attack at a gay bar in Lille. The bar owner blamed the incident on the mounting “tensions” in the country over the same-sex marriage bill currently going through the French National Assembly.
There is growing concern over the levels and ferocity of an increased number of homophobic attacks and abuse in France over the last two weeks. Several anti-gay protests have turned violent in many cities across the country. A protest on Wednesday turned ugly when several thousand anti-gay protesters damaged cars, vandalised public property and attacked police officers and journalists.
Many gay activists and pro marriage equality supporters have reported threats of violence directed at them and according to gay groups monitoring the situation, reports of anti-gay and homophobic violence has gone up by a staggering and shocking 30% this year alone.
Manuel Valls, the Interior Minister is believed to have held meetings with representatives of security forces in order to “reinforce security measures surrounding protests following the excesses of the past days”. He has also verbally pledged to prevent further homophobic assaults.
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has also condemned the violence and has called for calm. “These protests have a right to take place, we are in a republic. But calls for violence, calls to hate, must be condemned,” he said earlier last week.