Anti-homophobia march draws 5,000 in Paris as vote takes place
by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
Five thousand people marched in Paris on April 9 to protest increasing violence against LGBT people, as the French Senate passed the government's marriage equality bill section by section. Marchers carried signs reading 'Homophobia kills' and 'Our love is stronger than your hate.'
Among the marchers was Wilfred de Bruijn, a librarian who was assaulted and beaten while he and his partner were casually walking down a Paris street arm-in-arm. He posted a Facebook photo of his bruised and bloody face, an image that has gone viral on social networking sites.
'I certainly feel there's been an increase in homophobia,' de Bruijn told Associated Press.
'What [the anti-equality people] are saying is that they're not homophobic: Lesbians and Gays are nice people, but don't let them get close to children - that's very dangerous.
'It's OK for them to live together, but not like other couples with the same protection, because it's not really the same thing.'
BILL READY TO SIGN
The French Senate, meanwhile, completed action on the marriage bill sent to them by the National Assembly, where it passed on February 12.
According to French law, Senators must work through the bill section by section, rather than passing the whole package as the U.S. Senate might.
The most critical section of the bill - the one allowing same-sex couples to marry - passed late Tuesday night on a 179 to 157 vote. The Senate version was the same as that passed by the National Assembly, so no further legislative action will be required.
'This article was adopted 'in conformity',' the French newspaper Le Monde said, 'that is to say, without modification from the first reading vote in the National Assembly. This vote becomes final unless the entire bill was rejected after consideration by the Senate. It will not be subjected to a second reading in the National Assembly or the CMP' [the French equivalent of a joint conference committee in Congress].
ADOPTION RIGHTS OK'D
The next day, the Senate also passed the second-most-important piece of the bill, giving same-sex spouses the right to adopt children.
According to Le Monde, 'The debates were monopolized by the senators of the right-wing side, who affirmed again that the adoption of this text would open up the way for assisted medical procreation and for surrogacy with others.'
With more than 600 amendments to the law being submitted, it remains unclear when the Senate will finish work on the legislation, but the two crucial sections have now passed. For French President François Hollande, the new law is the fulfillment of his campaign pledge to equalize marriage rights in his country.
NOW IT'S OUR TURN
'France is poised to become the latest country - 16 on four continents - where loving and committed Gay couples can share in the freedom to marry, and it won't be the last this year,' the U.S. group Freedom to Marry noted in a statement.
'Like France, the United States extols liberty, equality, and fairness; it is time for our country, too, to end the denial of marriage and live up to our best values.'
Although France's powerful Catholic Church has joined right-wing political groups to try to derail marriage equality, opinion polls suggest that around 55% to 60% of French people support equality, and about 50% approve of adoption rights for same-sex couples.
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