France Approves Gay Marriage Despite Right-Wing Protest, Attacks by Skinheads
The French legislature has approved a bill legalizing gay marriage in the country. The vote comes after a divisive national debate that saw intense street protests and threats directed against legislators.
The bill passed today by 331 to 225 votes.
The legalization makes France the 14th country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage. French President Francois Hollande supports the bill. The French Justice Minister said that the first gay marriages could happen as early as June, according to the Associated Press.
"We believe that the first weddings will be beautiful and that they'll bring a breeze of joy, and that those who are opposed to them today will surely be confounded when they are overcome with the happiness of the newlyweds and the families," the minister said.
The successful passage comes after weeks of debate and street protests. Extreme right-wing homophobic groups have stoked anti-gay sentiment in the country, and the Guardian notes that “skinheads attacked a gay bar in Lille” last week.
A massive police presence gathered near France’s National Assembly in preparation for the vote. Protests and counter-protests are expected. The police have had to use tear gas in the past to beat back anti-gay demonstrators.