The recently elected President of France François Hollande is expected to legalise gay marriage and adoption by same-sex couples by early next year.
Defeating Nicolas Sarkozy by fewer than 52% of the vote in Sunday’s run-off election, Hollande made several promises to the public during the presidential race.
Hollande capitalised on France’s economic troubles promising solutions and Sarkozy’s unpopularity with the liberal public.
Hollande says on his website: ‘Freedom is the ability to let two people in love, regardless of their sexual orientation to unite.
‘Equality is to allow any couple to use the same device without legal discrimination.’
While Hollande may support gay marriage and adoption for same-sex couples, he will still have to hope parliament will stand by him.
Far right party National Front, led by Marine Le Pen, obtained a surprising 18.1% of the vote. In a radio interview last year, she said: ‘I am totally opposed to gay marriage and I think that only a minority are for it anyway.’
She added: ‘Gay pride events with its parades are, as a general rule, provocations against other people, notably Catholics.’
The parliament voted through in 1999 a form of civil union known as PACS. It included some rights and responsibilities of marriage, but not full equality.
In 2004 the government began preparations for expanding the rights contained in PACS legal agreements, however many LGBT groups criticised this as a way of avoiding gay marriage. The government finally agreed that couples in a PACS agreement should file joint tax returns.
In comparison with UK civil partnerships, any unmarried heterosexual couples are also allowed to obtain a PACS. After two years of the law being enacted, over 60% of unions were heterosexuals.
A statement from the Inter-LGBT, an umbrella group of the main associations in France, said: ‘Improving the PACS will never be an answer to the growing claim of same-sex couples who want to marry.’