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Hollande set to sign gay marriage into French law

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Photo: AFP
17:12 CEST+02:00
France's highest court the Constitutional Council cleared the divisive gay marriage bill on Friday, paving the way for same sex unions to become legal. Francois Hollande said he would sign the bill into law as soon as Saturday.

The final hurdle preventing the gay marriage bill from becoming law was overcome on Friday when the legislation was passed by France's Constitutional Council, after it turned
down a challenge by the opposition.

The issue of gay marriage and adoption for same sex couples has divided France with mas street protests being held by opponents of the bill, some of which have ended in violence.

France made history on April 23 when it became the 14th country to vote gay marriage into law but opposition UMP deputies referred the bill to the Council, which has the right to throw it out if it is against the country's constitution.

However "Les Sages" as the council members are known has suggested they would not intervene with the wishes of parliament and on Friday they stuck to their word.

A statement by the Council said same-sex marriage "did not run contrary to any constitutional principles," and that it did not infringe "basic rights or liberties or national sovereignty."

The council also said that gay adoption did not automatically mean the "right to a child" and that the "interest of the child" would be the overriding factor in such cases.

All that remains now is for Francois Hollande to sign the bill into law. Immediately after the council's decision the president, eager to put the bill to bed, announced he would sign the bill into law as soon as Saturday.

The first gay wedding can be held 10 days after Hollande signs it into law, although some mayors across the country have refused to administer the ceremonies.

On Saturday, France will become the 14th country to legalise same-sex marriage, joining a club of eight other European nations -- the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland and Denmark.

Friday's decision by the council will delight supporters of the bill but will further anger protestors, who have stage mass street rallies in recent months to demonstrate their opposition to the proposal.

Despite parliament having passed the bill another protest is planned for May 26th.

A Parisian socialite who goes by the name of Frigide Barjot and has become the public face of the movement opposing gay marriage said the council's go-ahead was a "provocation," adding that France was trying to change "civilisation."

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Barjot whose assumed name is a play on the name of French film star Brigitte Bardot, a sex symbol in the 1960s, and translates as Frigid Loony told AFP: "It's an institutional revolution," adding: "We are in the process of changing civilisation."

When parliament passed the bill in April Justice Minister Christiane Taubira hailed the adoption of the bill as a "historic" moment in French history.

"It grants new rights, stands firmly against discrimination (and) testifies to our country's respect for the institution of marriage," she said in a statement shortly after the vote.

"This law... brightens the horizons of many of our citizens who were deprived of these rights," she said.

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