French plan to legalise gay marriage hits opposition and delays

October 22, 2012

(People take part in the annual Gay Pride march in Paris, June 30, 2012. The sign at rear reads “Marriage for All”. REUTERS/Mal Langsdon)

Plans by France’s Socialist government to legalize same-sex marriage are proving harder to enact than first thought after faith leaders and conservatives mobilized against it even as left-wing deputies try to expand it.

With a solid majority it won last spring, the government originally only planned short parliamentary hearings and a debate early next year before voting on one of President Francois Hollande’s most divisive campaign promises and something he has framed as a trademark reform.

But as opposition has grown, it has put off issuing the draft text of the reform and scheduled longer parliamentary hearings. It has also put aside one demand, assisted procreation – or giving gay couples the right to have “test tube babies” – as too hot to handle for now.

“Parliament will take its time,” Interior Minister Manuel Valls said on Saturday. “Nobody doubts (the reform) will become law, but all opinions – political, philosophical or religious – will be heard.”

Inter-LGBT, a group pressing for full equality on all issues of sexual orientation, has accused Hollande of backtracking on his campaign promises. “The symbolism is strong but they’re stopping halfway,” said spokesman Nicolas Gougain.

“We thought we would get everything from a left-wing government,” said a disappointed civil servant at a debate on gay parenting in the western city of Nantes. “There are still many fights to be fought.”

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