France is delaying the debate on a draft law authorizing gay marriage, prompting fears the government is backtracking on the issue.
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault first named 31 October as the date when government ministers would present the law.
However, on Friday (19 October), his office said talks have now moved to a week later on 7 November.
Parliamentary debates are now expected to last until January, the Associated Press reports.
Ever since President Francois Hollande and Ayrault announced they were going to introduce same-sex marriage laws to France, right-wing political parties and the Catholic Church have spoken out in fury.
On Thursday (18 October), France’s Chief Rabbi Gilles Bernheim joined other religious leaders in opposing the plans.
He said marriage needed to be protected as an institution ‘solely between men and women’.
Bernheim slammed the proposed bill which is popularly known in France as ‘marriage for all’ saying it was ‘nothing but a slogan’.
‘The argument that marriage is for all of those in love does not hold — it is not because people love each other that they systematically have the right to marry,’ he said.
More than 1,200 French mayors and their deputies have signed a petition protesting marriage equality, demanding a ‘withdrawal clause’ for elected leaders who do not want to perform ceremonies for same-sex couples.
In a recent poll, it was revealed 65% of French people back gay marriage, and 53% agree with adoption by same-sex couples.