PRI -French Prime Minister announces France will legalize gay marriage by 2013

French Prime Minister announces France will legalize gay marriage by 2013
Font size: Published 06 July, 2012 08:00:00 PRI’s The World


By next year, same-sex couples in France will be allowed to get married and adopt children. (Photo by Palosirkka via Wikimedia Commons.)

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault confirmed that France will legalize marriage and adoption for gay couples by 2013, following through on an election promise made by President Francois Hollande.

Gay couples in France will be allowed to get married and to adopt children by 2013, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced in Parliament, Wednesday.

The new French President Francois Hollande made a promise during his campaign to legalize gay marriage.

Since 1999, couples in France have been allowed to enter into civil unions, whether straight or gay. But Wednesday, Hollande’s Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault confirmed that the law will be changed by 2013 to allow gay couples to get married and adopt children.

BBC journalist David Chazan wasn’t surprised by the announcement. He’s been covering the story in Paris and said it’s been a long time coming for same-sex couples.

“It’s been expected and it was one of the planks of Francois Hollande’s presidential campaign,” Chazan said.

Many European nations already allow gay marriage and adoption. In France, civil unions are recognized by the state, but don’t offer the same inheritance or parenting rights as marriage.

In his speech, Ayrault said the shift is really in response to changes in society, lifestyles and attitudes in France.

”Society is evolving, lifestyles and mentalities are changing,” he said. ”The government will respond to that.”

A 2012 survey from the French Institute of Public Opinion showed 63 percent of French people are in favor of gay marriage while 56 percent support gay adoption.

“What has changed in France is interesting. About 10 or 15 years ago, majority of French people opposed gay marriage. Now, more than 60 percent of French people are in favor of gay marriage to the point where, I think it’s fair to say that it’s really only a very small minority of French people who are still against it,” Chazan said.

Ayrault’s announcement came just days after Paris held its annual Gay Pride parade.

“People wanted it. People expected it. There’s been hardly any reaction here at all, simply because people have been focusing on the other things that the prime minister had to say about the economy,” Chazan said.

Gay organizations in France are welcoming the government’s announcement. They told Chazan there were going to be queues of people lining up to get married as soon as the law changes.

According to Chazan, the only controversial issue left concerning gay couples is adoption. Though 56 percent of French people support giving gay couples the right to adopt, that figure is still less than the percentage of people supporting same-sex marriage.

“I think the reason for that is because a lot of people feel that bringing up children should be done by a man and a women, and there are fears, particularly in the case of male homosexual couples, that men are more likely to be sexual predators than women. So that’s why they’re a bit worried about the notion of two men bringing up children on their own,” Chazan said.

Gay rights groups are responding to those claims by noting that there’s nothing to suggest that gay men are any more likely to be sexual predators than heterosexual men, Chazan said.

Reuters – France to pass gay marriage, adoption law

France to pass gay marriage, adoption law

PARIS | Fri Jun 29, 2012 3:21pm EDT
(Reuters) – France’s new Socialist government is to legalize marriage and adoption for same-sex couples, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Friday, reflecting a shift in public attitudes in the majority Catholic nation.

President Francois Hollande, who took office last month, had pledged to legalize gay marriage and adoption during his election campaign but had given no time frame.

Since Hollande’s Socialists won an absolute majority in parliamentary elections two weeks ago, the conservative UMP party, which had opposed the measure under former president Nicolas Sarkozy, can do little to stop it.

“The government has made it an objective for the next few months to work on implementing its campaign commitments on the fight against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity,” Ayrault’s office said in a statement.

Earlier in the day, the junior minister for families Dominique Bertinotti told French daily Le Parisien that a law on gay marriage and adoption would be passed within a year.

The statement from prime minister’s office did not confirm the time frame, but asserted a law would be implemented.

In addition, the government would hold discussions in the autumn on ways of making life easier for trans gender individuals, whose dealings with French administration are often complicated by their change of name and sex.

A law granting full marriage status to gay couples would bring France, which currently provides only for same-sex civil unions, into line with fellow EU members Denmark, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden.

It would also mark a profound change in French society, where more than two-thirds of people still describe themselves as Roman Catholic, according to a 2010 survey by pollster Ifop.

However, fewer and fewer of them adhere to strict Roman Catholic teachings on sexual issues or back the Vatican’s condemnation of homosexuality. Church attendance has collapsed.

As recently as 2006, surveys indicated that most French were opposed to changing the definition of marriage, but now more than 60 percent support the idea, the pollster BVA said. A majority also favor allowing gay couples to adopt children.

Nevertheless, gay rights advocates say homosexuality remains taboo in many areas of public life. Media tend to use euphemisms such as “long-term bachelor” to hint that someone is gay.

“Today, it’s still very difficult to put a name on things, as if saying in public that someone was homosexual was to violate a taboo,” a group of gay professionals wrote in an opinion piece in the newspaper Le Monde on Friday, the eve of a Gay Pride march in Paris.

A gay marriage law would boost Hollande’s credentials as an agent of social change in the tradition of late Socialist president Francois Mitterrand, who appointed France’s first female prime minister and scrapped the death penalty.

Hollande fathered four children out of wedlock with his former partner, fellow Socialist Segolene Royal.

A debate on gay rights might also draw some attention away from the economic woes weighing on his popularity.

Still, there is certain to be opposition from conservatives and practicing Catholics.

“We are convinced that young people’s development requires the presence of a mother and a father,” said Thierry Vidor, head of the Familles de France umbrella group, which represents some 70,000 families, and campaigns for traditional family rights.

“We will take action to try to show that this measure is ultimately dangerous for society.”

(Reporting by Nicholas Vinocur; Editing by Michael Roddy)