François Hollande, the President-elect of France, is expected to push for gay marriage and adoption rights for gay couples.
Mr. Hollande won the presidential elections in France at the weekend ousting Nicolas Sarkozy as president winning 52% of the vote. Hollande is the first socialist president of France in 17 years and the first to be elected for over two decades. The socialist was elected on an agenda of raising the minimum wage, hiring more teachers and lowering the retirement age for some workers – he is also expected to end, or at the very least tone down, austerity measures in the European country.
While European countries such as Spain, Belgium, Iceland, Norway, The Netherlands and Portugal have legalised gay marriage the French government, under Sarkozy, indicated it was unlikely to do so. During the presidential campaign Sarkozy re-affirmed his beliefs that marriage was a heterosexual institution stating ‘To my knowledge and the current state of scientific knowledge, it requires a man and a woman to have a child.’
Gay and straight couples can enter into Civil Solidarity Pacts which offer many of the legal protections of marriage but crucially not adoption rights. Mr. Hollande has a different view on same-sex marriage than his predecessor and pledged during the campaign ‘I will open the right to marriage and adoption to homosexual couples’ and also pledged action on marriage equality by early 2013.
A number of other European countries are expected to pass same-sex legalisation this year or debate the issue with Denmark, Finland, Germany and Luxemburg amongst them. In Scotland the SNP led administration has held a public consultation on the issue, separately from the rest of the UK, and has stated it is “inclined” to introduce gay marriages. In the rest of the UK a public consultation is currently taking place on the issue and marriage equality has the support of party leaders David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband.
Exactly when gay couples will win the right to marry [in the UK] is now unclear as while Clegg promised his Liberal Democrat party it would happen by 2015 it looks as though any measures may be delayed in light of last week’s local elections defeat for the coalition government. The defeats in the elections has been put down, by right-wingers, to gay marriage plans though the more likely reason is public dismay at public sector cuts, rising unemployment levels, welfare cutbacks and a series of damaging political scandals over the past month.
[Written by Martha Kirkpatrick, LGBT editor]