May 18, 2013 (TSR) – French President Francois Hollande on Saturday has legalised gay marriage and same-sex adoption bill into law.
Fulfilling one of his campaign pledges in last year’s election, the new law is one of the biggest social reforms in France since abolition of the death penalty in 1981.
Sandwiched between the First International Top-level Lesbian, Gay Emancipation Congress that convened in the Netherlands on May 17 and the Eurovision 2013 gay marriage theme in Malmö, Sweden on May 18, France, a predominantly Catholic country, now follows 13 others including Canada, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and most recently Uruguay and New Zealand in allowing gay and lesbian couples to wed. In the United States, Washington D.C. and 12 states have legalized same-sex marriage.
The bill has been for months hotly contested with huge and often violent demonstrations, largely by French conservative and religious groups.
For years, polls have shown more than half of the French population support gay marriage, unlike former president Francois Mitterrand’s abolition of the death penalty, which most French people opposed at the time. However, the adoption by same-sex couples is more controversial.
After French lawmakers adopted the bill in late April, opponents had sought to scupper it with a last-ditch appeal to the Constitutional Council.
Hollande’s office said he signed the bill this morning, a day after the Constitutional Council gave it the green light on Friday, according to Reuters.
The leader of opposition to gay marriage, a political activist and humorist who goes under the name of Frigide Barjot, has said the protest planned for May 26 would draw millions into the streets.
Hollande’s popularity ratings is at a record low after a year into office. Critics are saying that the law has proved costly for the president because it a mere distraction from what he should really be focusing on:Revive the recession-hit French economy.
Montpellier mayor Helene Mandroux, who is due to celebrate France’s first gay marriage in the southern city on May 29, said the law marked a major social advance.
“Love has won out over hate,” she said, while voicing concerns the first gay wedding could attract violent protests.
The French first gay marriages may be celebrated in their country within the month. French law says there must be 10 days between the publication of the bans and the ceremony.
Netherlands: On April 1, 2001 the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage, with the same rights as heterosexuals. Includes the right to adopt.
Belgium: Homosexual couples in Belgium have almost the same rights as heterosexuals. They won the right to marry in 2003 and in 2006 parliament voted into law a bill allowing homosexual couples to adopt children.
Spain: In 2005 Spain became the third member of the European Union to pass a law allowing same-sex marriages. Gay couples can adopt children, whether they are married or not.
Canada: Canada adopted a national law allowing gays to marry and adopt in July 2005, though most provinces had already allowed same-sex unions before that date.
South Africa: The country legalised same-sex unions and adoptions by gay couples in November 2006, becoming the first African nation to do so.
Norway: A 2009 law allowed homosexuals to marry and adopt children. Civil partnerships have existed in the country for 20 years.
Sweden: Sweden’s homosexuals have been allowed to wed in religious or civil ceremonies since May 2009.
Portugal: Under a 2010 law Portugal legalised gay marriage, while excluding the right to adoption.
Iceland: Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir married her long-time partner in June 2010 as a new law legalising homosexual marriages came into force. Same-sex couples who have lived together for at least five years have had the right to adopt children since 2006.
Argentina: Gays in Argentina became the first on the South American continent to be able to wed and adopt, after legislation passed on July 14, 2010.
Denmark: Denmark, the first country in the world to allow gay couples to enter into civil unions in 1989, voted overwhelmingly in favour of allowing homosexuals to marry in the state Evangelical Lutheran Church in June 2012.
Uruguay: Uruguay voted in April 2013 to allow same-sex marriages nationwide, making it only the second Latin American country to do so.
New Zealand: New Zealand on April 17 2013 became the first Asia-Pacific country to legalise same-sex marriage, after a decades-long campaign.
France: French President Francois Hollande signs gay marriage and same – sex adoption bills in to law on May 18, 2013, making it one of the biggest social reforms in France since the abolition of death penalty in 1981.
Gay couples can marry in nine US states, as well as in the capital Washington, while parts of Mexico also allow same-sex marriage.
Brazil this month gave a de facto green light to same-sex marriages after its National Council of Justice ruled that government offices could issue marriage licenses to gay couples without having to wait for Congress to pass a law allowing gay unions.
Britain: Same-sex couples in Britain have had the right to live in civil partnerships since 2005 but cannot marry. British lawmakers voted in February in favour of controversial legislation allowing gay marriage, despite fierce opposition from members of Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative party.
The bill has since been scrutinised by a committee of lawmakers and will be debated again in the lower House of Commons on Monday, followed by a vote on Tuesday. If the vote passes, the bill will go before the upper chamber, the House of Lords, before becoming law.
A number of other countries have adopted laws that recognise civil partnerships and give couples more or less the same rights as heterosexuals.
Countries to have recognised civil unions without yet accepting gay marriage include Germany (2001), Finland (2002), the Czech Republic (2006), Switzerland (2007) and Colombia and Ireland (both 2011).