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France to get same-sex marriage in ‘next few months’

President François Hollande and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault say a law may pass sooner than expected
President François Hollande may legalize gay marriage in France sooner than the expected date of spring 2013.

France is expected to get same-sex marriage sooner than expected, according to a statement from Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault’s office.

With a large victory for President François Hollande’s Socialist party in parliament, the timing is largely up to the party and the president when the changes are legalised.

On his campaign trail, Hollande pledged he would legalize same-sex marriage and equal adoption rights for gay couples in France. When the election results were announced on 17 June, Hollande said the first same-sex marriage ceremonies will be held in spring 2013.

In a statement released yesterday (29 June), Ayrault said: ‘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.’

Earlier that day, the junior minister for families Dominique Bertinotti told French newspaper La Parisien a law on gay marriage and adoption would be passed at one point in 2012 but did not specify a date.

Currently gay couples in France, like heterosexuals, can have a PACS or civil solidariy pact, giving some but not all of the rights and responsibilities of marriage. Many straight couples ‘upgrade’ this to marriage when they have children.

Now marriage will be open to all, and as all French ceremonies are conducted by civil officials there will be no religious issue about gays uniting in churches.

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.

Other than gay marriage, upcoming legislation means transgender people will be able to legally define their gender prior to having surgery, lesbians will be able to have fertility treatment, and the lifetime ban on gay and bisexual men giving blood will be lifted.

In Europe, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Spain, Portugal, Iceland and The Netherlands all recognize same-sex marriage, with Britain likely to join the club in 2015.

Meanwhile three activists are on the sixth day of their hunger strike in a bid to force Hollande to bring a resolution to the UN, demanding the decriminalization of homosexuality worldwide. 

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