Saturday, February 2, 2013, 22:13 by PA
Opponents to government plans to legalise same-sex marriage, adoption and medically assisted procreation for same-sex couples, demonstrate, in Marseille southern France. Photo: Claude Paris)
France's National Assembly has approved a key article of a controversial bill that would legalise gay marriage.
The measure, approved by a 249-to-97 vote today, would drop the legal requirement that a marriage in France must be between two people of the opposite sex.
To become law, that measure must now be approved by France's Senate. That is expected to happen since President Francois Hollande favours the change.
However, the legislation also contains a measure that has been more controversial in the parliamentary debate, which began on Tuesday. It would legalise gay adoption, and hundreds of thousands of supporters and opponents of the measure have held protests in Paris.
The parliamentary debate on the gay rights legislation is scheduled to be completed by February 12.