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France’s New President Moving Ahead With Plans To Legalize Same-Sex Marriage & Allow Gay Couples To
November 7, 2012
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France's new government is moving ahead with plans to legalize same-sex marriage and allow gay couples to adopt.

President Francois Hollande's government has approved a bill, that he says will mean "progress not only for individuals but for the whole of society".

The bill will be debated in parliament in January. But Hollande and his Socialist Party have a majority in both houses of parliament, so the bill is expected to pass early next year.

Right now, France allows civil unions between same-sex couples. But as part of his election campaign, Hollande promised to extend their rights.

Not everyone supports the bill.

More than 1,000 mayors in France signed a petition opposing it, and there have been protests in 75 towns and cities - many of them against the adoption part of the bill.

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The Catholic Church is also against the legislation.

This past weekend, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, described gay marriage as "the ultimate deceit."

Gilles Bernheim, the chief rabbi of France, has referred to "marriage for all" as a "slogan," rather than a societal project.

Muslim, Protestant and Orthodox Christian religious leaders have also opposed the bill.

Also against it is Serge Dassault, a high profile senator on the centre-right and member of the Union for a Popular Movement, the party of former President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Dassault said: "It's the end of the family, the end of children's development, the end of education," and called it "an enormous danger to the nation."

France's minister of family affairs rejected that saying, "On the contrary, it is a legal protection."

Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front, has called for a referendum on the issue.

Polls suggest that a majority of the French support gay marriage, but only half are in favour of allowing gays and lesbians to adopt children.

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Currently, only married couples in France are allowed to adopt - not civil union partners.

If the bill passes, France will join the likes of Canada, Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Spain and Sweden, to legalize same-sex marriage.

In Germany, same-sex marriage is illegal. But registered same-sex couples have essentially the same legal rights as married straight couples.

A number of European nations, including the UK and Sweden, already allow gay adoption.

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