The lower house of the French Parliament voted on Saturday morning with 249 in favour and 97 voting against. The majority of support for making gay marriage legal came from the left of the political spectrum. France’s socialist President Francois Hollande made a pledge during his election campaign to introduce gay marriage to the country if he won.
The vote by members of the National Assembly comes after months of public debate and protests on the issue. In January an estimated 400,000 people attended a rally in Champs-de-Mars against gay marriage; the organisers of the protest were handed the clean up bill following the protest. Last weekend around 250,000 people attended rallies in Lyons and Paris in favour of gay marriage.
The French National Assembly also voted to open up adoption for same-sex married couples. There will be further votes on the issue until February 13th. Francois Hollande has previously admitted that opponents of gay marriage are proving to be “tough” to deal with. Public support for gay marriage is in the majority according to opinion polls but support is divided along political lines; those on the right tend to oppose the move.
France is not the only European country debating the issue of gay marriage; at home the coalition government is seeking to introduce same-sex marriage to England and Wales while in Scotland the SNP administration is also likely to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry north of the border.
If the UK and France do introduce gay marriage they join fellow European countries such as Sweden, Belgium, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands – as well as others – who have already done so.