Credit: Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes
(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."
Same-sex civil unions/domestic partnerships conducted under laws in foreign countries are only recognised for a few countries. Registered Civil Partnerships in the United Kingdom are not recognised – the only solution currently available for a couple in a Civil Partnership to gain PACS rights in France is to dissolve their Civil Partnership and then establish a PACS. Same-sex marriages from the Netherlands, by contrast, are already recognized. This does not however allow dual citizenship, which is reserved for opposite-sex couples. For example, a Frenchman who marries a Dutchman in the Netherlands, and therefore assumes Dutch nationality, automatically loses his French citizenship.
On June 14, 2011, the National Assembly of France voted 293–222 against legalizing same-sex marriage.Deputies of the majority party Union for a Popular Movement voted mostly against the measure, while deputies of the Socialist Party mostly voted in favor. Members of the Socialist Party stated that legalization of same-sex marriage would become a priority should they gain a majority in the French legislative election, 2012.During his campaign for French presidential election, 2012, Socialist Party candidate François Hollande declared he supports same-sex marriage and adoption for LGBT couples, and has plans to pursue the issue in early 2013 if he won. Let us see if the aforementioned anti gay groups will continue using France's record now that they have embraced Gay Marriage rights for same sex couples.
here is a short audio response I did recently: