France’s National Assembly voted in favor of legalizing gay marriage, after weeks of debates and demonstrations both against and for the proposed law.
The lower house of the French parliament voted the bill in 329 versus 229, with a debate on the issue in the upper house, or Senate, slated to start from April 2. Agence France-Presse reported.
The bill, which sailed through the National Assembly owing to the large majority held by President Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party and its allies, marks the first major social plan he has pushed through since his election in May and would fulfill a campaign promise.
It mirrors the passage this month in the House of Commons of a bill to legalize gay marriage in England and Wales, bringing them into line with countries such as Spain and South Africa.
The French bill -- known by its slogan “marriage for all” -- gives same-sex partnerships equal status with heterosexual unions and allows gays to adopt children.
The bill divided France, a predominantly Catholic country. Opinion polls show that a majority of French voters favor giving same-sex couples the right to marry, though they oppose giving such couples rights to adoption or medically-assisted procreation.
Pollster BVA found that 58 percent of voters favor gay marriage, while 53 percent oppose adoption for gay couples, according to a survey published last month. CSA, another polling company, found that 52 percent favor gay marriage and the same proportion oppose adoption by same-sex couples.
On Jan. 13, about 340,000 people converged under the Eiffel Tower to protest against the proposal, according to police estimates. Organizers put the turnout at more than 800,000. Protesters dancing to hip-hop music carried flags with white images of the traditional family: man, woman and two children.
“There are many people who are worried about this law,” Laurent Wauquiez, a minister under former President Nicolas Sarkozy, said that day on Europe 1 radio. “Do we have to destroy the family and the place of children in it? We must pay attention to the place of children.”
Sarkozy’s Union for a Popular Movement party had called for a referendum on the issue.
On Jan. 27, a demonstration in favor of the bill drew about 125,000 people onto the streets of Paris, according to the police. The event’s organizers estimated the turnout at about 400,000.