France approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage and gay adoptions -- and Socialist President François Holland is expected to sign it -- despite those in the country who remain fiercely opposed to it and attacks against gays rising as the debate has raged. Polls show a majority of the French favor equal rights for same-sex couples, but center-right politicians have embraced the protests as a way of opposing Hollande. Anti–gay marriage protesters have begun calling their movement the “French spring,” with about 45,000 marching in Paris in a mostly peaceful protest that included some wrapping themselves in the French flag and others carrying children or pushing baby carriages with the sign “All born of a mom and dad.” Meanwhile, there have been several high-profile attacks against gays in the country, including the beating earlier this month of a Dutch man who was walking hand-in-hand with another man in Paris.
Opponents shouted slogans against Mr. Hollande and wrapped themselves in the red, white and blue of the French flag. Some carried children or pushed baby carriages under a slogan that read, “All born of a mom and dad.” Opposition leaders condemned any targeting of homosexuals. The numbers on Sunday were down considerably from the 300,000 who marched last month.
But on Monday, Manuel Valls, the interior minister, accused protesters and political opponents on the right of “unleashing homophobic speech.” Speaking to Europe 1 radio, Mr. Valls conceded that opponents of the bill were “numerous,” but said they represented “a minority compared to the millions” who voted for Mr. Hollande as president a year ago, when he promised to pass a same-sex marriage bill in his first year in office.
Also on Monday, the president of the National Assembly received a letter threatening “war” and attacks on Socialist lawmakers if the lower house approved the legislation, the French news media reported. The letter was said to have contained gunpowder.
In general, politics has come to overshadow the moral and religious questions around the bill, which Roman Catholic, Muslim and Jewish leaders oppose. The bill promises “marriage for all” and more contentiously, polls show, would legalize adoption by same-sex couples. The bill does not mandate state aid for artificial insemination or other assistance in procreation for same-sex married couples, however, which many French oppose. Such a bill may be proposed separately.
France has had a "civil solidarity pact" -- a form of civil union -- since 1999, which gives couples some rights and protections, but falls short of marriage and is more often used by heterosexual couples who see it as a form of "marriage light."
Over half of the countries in the European Union have either some sort of civil union, if not marriage, that is open to same-sex couples.