Un arc-en-ciel over France: same-sex marriage is legalised


France has become the 14th country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage after Tuesday’s historic vote.

Following much debate amongst both lawmakers and the general public, president François Hollande’s “marriage for all” bill, which would also allow same-sex couples to adopt children, has been approved in the assembly.

Given the overwhelming Socialist majority in the lower house, it had been anticipated that the bill would be passed. However, the issue of same-sex marriage has proven one of the most controversial questions in the country’s recent political memory.

A step in the right direction

French Justice Minister Christiane Taubi

Jubilant supporters of the legislation celebrated on Tuesday evening, dubbing 23 April the “Day of Love”.1 For many, the right to same-sex marriage is a fundamental matter of equality – and this law is symbolic as a first step to ending discrimination and homophobia. “We’re obviously really happy,” said Cecile Hommeau, member of collective Oui Oui Oui. “But our fight is far from over […] the goal is to be granted access to medically assisted reproduction.” 2

The final vote – 331 for and 225 against – came after 172 hours of passionate debate in the assembly and senate, with Justice Minister Christiane Taubira describing the law as “a very beautiful reform”3, and said “many French people will be proud this job is done” 4. But immediately after the vote, conservative protestors tried to fly a banner calling for a referendum, and were escorted from the assembly by security.? Opponents to the bill declared they would challenge its legality in the Constitutional Council.

An end to discrimination, but not heated opposition

The last few weeks have also seen mass street rallies both in support of, and opposition to, the bill. Homophobic violence has risen, and the National Assembly has played host to daily protests.


“It’s a gloomy day for us,” said Raphaël de Bourayne, organiser of a Bordeaux march which saw over 500 people take to the streets, dressed as if for a funeral.6 Leading the antis is comedian Virginie Tellenne, better known by the moniker ‘Frigide Barjot’. A spokeswoman for the Manif Pour Tous (‘protest for all’) movement, she promised that “if Hollande wants blood, he’ll get it!” 7

What next?

It now becomes a task for the Constitutional Council to debate the constitutionality of the law.


President François Hollande, who stated “Our differences should not become divisive”8 when he was inaugurated, must also sign the bill before it may be officially enacted as law. Hollande wants the law to be effective as of 25 May. A large anti-same sex marriage demonstration has been slated for 26 May.

Same-sex marriage was legalised in New Zealand only last week, and in Uruguay earlier this year.

What are the laws in the country where you live? Do you support “marriage for all”, like Hollande – or “protest for all”, like Frigide?

1. French parliament allows gay marriage despite protest via Reuters
2. Joie des partisans du mariage homo, les antis ne désarment pas via Le Nouvel Observateur
3. France approves same-sex marriage via the New York Times
4. French parliament allows gay marriage despite protest via Reuters
5. ibid
6. Joie des partisans du mariage homo, les antis ne désarment pas via Le Nouvel Observateur
7. Frigide Barjot: “Hollande veut du sang, il en aura !” via Le Nouvel Observateur
8. President François Holland’s inauguration speech via France in the United States
9. French lawmakers approve same-sex marriage bill via CNN
10. France approxes same-sex marriage via the Guardian
11. Joy, anger as France legalises same-sex marriage via ABC News Australia
Image credits:
1. Supporters of gay marriage gather on Sunday, via CNN
2. French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira is congratulated after the vote, via the Guardian
3.  Opponents of a gay marriage bill face riot officers,via CNN
4. Thousands of people gather in support of the bill in Bastille Square on Sunday, via CNN
By Published On: Apr 24, 20134 Comments

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Jennifer Down

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  1. Briony Kemp Griffin May 6, 2013 at 6:27 PM - Reply

    Fantastic article and amazing pictures! Same-sex marriage took way too long to be legalized!

    • Jennifer Down May 7, 2013 at 1:53 PM - Reply

      Merci, Briony – I hope all this legislative change around the world prompts us to get things moving here in Australia, too!

  2. Alyssa Linn Palmer May 17, 2013 at 8:07 PM - Reply

    Bravo, France!

    I live in Canada, where same-sex marriage has been legal for over 7 years. I am glad that France has finally legalized gay marriage and that other European countries that don’t yet have such legislation will do so soon.

  3. Alex Mealey Jun 3, 2013 at 9:21 PM - Reply

    Im surprised the the French were this opposed as to same sex marriage. I had the impression that they might be more ‘revolutionary’ when it came to same social reform. But at least they passed it.

    I’m waiting for Australia to do the same, but I think, like with France – I perceive Australia as being more liberal than it actually is, so I could be waiting a long time.

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