Wednesday, April 24, 2013 by Reuters
French humorist and TV host Virginie Merle, also known as ‘Frigide Barjot’ (second from right), spokeswoman for the La Manif pour Tous (Demonstration for All) group who protest against France’s legalisation of same-sex marriage, attends a demonstration in Paris, yesterday. The French Parliament approved a law allowing same-sex couples to marry and to adopt children, a flagship reform pledge by French President François Hollande which sparked violent street protests and a rise in homophobic attacks. Photo: Reuters/Jacky Naegelen
French Parliament approved a law allowing same-sex couples to marry and to adopt children yesterday, a flagship reform pledge by President François Hollande which sparked often violent street protests and a rise in homophobic attacks.
Hollande’s “marriage for all” law is the biggest social reform in France since his left-wing mentor and predecessor François Mitterrand abolished the death penalty in 1981, a move which also split the nation.
Lawmakers in the lower house National Assembly, where Hollande’s Socialists have an absolute majority, passed the bill by 331 votes for and 225 against, making France the 14th country in the world to allow same-sex couples to wed. “Many French people will be proud this job is done,” Justice Minister Christiane Taubira told Parliament. “Those protesting today will find themselves moved by the joy of the newly-weds.”
Yet the episode has carried a political price for an already unpopular president. Critics said Hollande should focus on fixing the moribund economy while opponents have demanded a referendum and protests against it descended into violence.
The debate is also blamed for fanning a spate of homophobic attacks, including the beating up of a 24-year-old in the southern city of Nice on Saturday. Interior Minister Manuel Valls warned this week of “zero tolerance” for such violence. Socialist and conservative lawmakers had come close to blows more than once during lengthy parliament debates on the law.