France legalizes same-sex marriage, adoption

(Photo: Reuters / Charles Platiau)French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira (C) is congratulated by Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault (R) after a final vote on bill legalising same-sex marriage at the National Assembly in Paris April 23, 2013.

The French National Assembly voted on Tuesday to approve a bill that legalizes same-sex marriage and adoptions by gay couples after months of debate and large-scale street protests by opponents.

The legislation passed with a vote of 331-225. It becomes the 14th country in Europe to legalize same-sex marriage.

Ahead of the vote, reports indicated strong police presence and the presence of water cannons outside the assembly.

The first same-sex marriages are expected to take place in June, according to justice minister Christiane Taubira.

The president of the assembly, Claude Bartolone announced the result noting it involved nearly 137 hours of debate.

Just ahead of the vote a protester sought to unfurl a banner in the gallery. Bartelone said that "enemies of democracy" should have nothing to do with the chamber.

The change in the law was led by French President Franciois Hollande, who recently denounced an increase in homophobic attacks.

Opponents of the legislation hoping to block it may still file a legal challenge with the Constitutional Council Opposition has come from groups including Roman Catholic Church, other religious groups and social conservatives.

Some protesters have already announced they will hold rallies on May 5 and May 26 in Paris.

Polls show that a comfortable majority of the French population approves gay marriage but support was not as strong for adoptions by gay couples. Gay men and women can already adopt children as individuals.

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