Far right politicians have proposed France's gay marriage bill should be changed to also legalize polygamy, incest and child marriage.
Center and far right parties have tabled over 5,000 amendments to the bill, apparently in a bid to wreck it.
Debate on the bill started today (29 January) in the National Assembly but as all the amendments have to be answered, discussion is likely to stretch over two weeks.
Nevertheless, Harlem Désir, leader of the ruling Socialist party, said he is confident the bill will sail through and be voted for by a majority of deputies.
During the first day of the debate, Jacques Bompard, assembly member for the extreme-right National Front party proposed at least seven amendments, including establishing polygamy and incest.
In his amendments Bompard said ‘if we follow the reasoning of the government, then … it … should remove all other restrictions … and discrimination based on’, the number of people entering marriage (ie polygamy), incest, and age (ie child marriage).
Bompard also suggested that civil marriage should be supressed.
In another amendment Bompard suggested that a child adopted to, or born in, a same-sex marriage would automatically take the first name of the registry officer in order ‘to recognize the merit of registrars’.
Thierry Mariani of the main centre right opposition UMP party proposed an amendment to protect the father’s family name from ‘being destroyed’.
Mariani, and other MPs from center and far right parties proposed several amendments to ‘counter’ a possible wave of ‘gay migration’ to France which will allegedly open up due to marriage equality.
Today’s debate was at times heated, with the members of the UMP accusing the government of imposing a law on the French public that will ‘irrevocably’ ‘change’ and ‘redefine’ the family. They called for a referendum on the bill.
They promised further and more concerted ‘counter attacks’ when the bill will be put to the vote in France’s Senate, where the ruling socialist party has a smaller majority.
The French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault labelled some of tabled amendments as ‘attempts to obstruct’ the parliamentary procedures, and said the government will be unmoved by attempts of the opposition to ‘sour’ the discussion.
French family minister, Dominique Bertinotti accused the UMP of attempting to create ‘scaremongering’ among the French public by such amendments and their tone of their debates.
Franck Zanni, a Paris based LGBT rights advocate, told GSN: ‘The 5,000 plus amendments tabled by right wing politicians are not aimed at fostering a debate but at clogging the legislative process with arguments which are preposterous at best and outright homophobic at worst’.
Speaking with GSN, Nicolas Chinardet, an LGBT French blogger and activist residing in London, UK said: ‘Like many French LGBT people and their numerous allies, I find it very sad indeed that some of our representatives could stoop to such petty political games when the well-being of so many families is at stake’.
Meanwhile, Catholic priests have been conducting a ‘street prayer’ against gay marriage, outside the National Assembly, which they promise to keep up throughout the debate.
French President Francois Hollande's support for the legislation remained unshaken and his partner, Valerie Trierweiler, has revealed Hollande will be attending the marriages of gay friends once the legislation is on the statute books.
That is expected to happen by the middle of this year, as the Socialists enjoy an outright majority in parliament and the proposed reform is also supported by the Greens, Communists and some centrists.