French Senate starts gay marriage debate amid loud protests
The French Senate took its first look on Thursday at President Francois Hollande’s gay marriage bill, which has passed in the lower house but divided society as opponents clamoured for a referendum.
The bill, which gives homosexual couples the right to marry and adopt children, was designed to be Hollande’s first historic social reform, on par with former Socialist President Francois Mitterrand’s abolition of the death penalty in 1981.
But it has divided French society, pitting Catholics and conservatives against social reformers, left-wingers and gay people.
Several large demonstrations against it have caught the Socialist government off guard. On Thursday hundreds of protesters waving flags with the words “Jobs, not gay marriage” gathered near the Senate under drizzling rain, surrounded by riot police trucks.
Despite loud opposition and street protests last month that became violent, the gay marriage bill is expected to pass in the Senate thanks to backing by Socialists and allies supporting the bill. The debate is due to conclude on April 13.