France gay marriage: Hollande set to sign bill

The first gay wedding can be held
10 days after Mr Hollande signs
the bill
France's president is to sign
into law a controversial bill that
will make the country the
eighth in Europe, and 14th
globally, to legalise gay
marriage.
On Friday, the Constitutional
Council rejected a challenge by
the right-wing opposition, clearing
the way for Francois Hollande to
sign the bill.
He said: "I have taken [the
decision]; now it is time to respect
the law of the Republic."
The first gay wedding can be held
10 days after Mr Hollande signs
the bill.
He and his ruling Socialist Party
have made the legislation their
flagship social reform since being
elected a year ago.
After a tortured debate, the same-
sex marriage and adoption bill was
adopted by France's Senate and
National Assembly last month.
The bill was quickly challenged on
constitutional grounds by the
main right-wing opposition UMP
party of former president Nicolas
Sarkozy.
But the Constitutional Council
ruled on Friday that same-sex
marriage "did not run contrary to
any constitutional principles," and
that it did not infringe on "basic
rights or liberties or national
sovereignty".
It said the interest of the child
would be paramount in adoption
cases, cautioning that legalising
same-sex adoption would not
automatically mean the "right to a
child".
Comedian Frigide Barjot, who has
become a leading mouthpiece for
the anti-gay marriage movement,
denounced the ruling as "a
provocation" and called for the
campaign to continue.
Scores of protesters took to the
streets of Paris to voice their
opposition to the ruling on Friday:
previous, occasionally violent,
demonstrations against the bill
have drawn hundreds of
thousands onto the streets.
UMP President Jean-Francois Cope
said he regretted the
Constitutional Council's decision
but would respect it. Another
senior UMP figure, Herve Mariton,
said the party would come up with
alternative proposals in 2017 that
were "more respectful of the
rights of children".
The anti-gay marriage lobby,
backed by the Catholic Church and
conservative opposition, argues
the bill will undermine an
essential building block of society.
Opinion polls have suggested that
around 55-60% of French people
support gay marriage, but only
about 50% approve of gay
adoption.
Mr Hollande has been struggling
with the lowest popularity ratings
of any recent French president,
with his promises of economic
growth so far failing to bear fruit
and unemployment now above
10%.