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Tension on the rise as French Parliament considers gay marriage legislation

April 18, 2013

Supporters and opponents of a bill that would legalize gay marriage in all of France have been clashing as the nation's parliament moves closer to a vote on the legislation. The bill, which would allow homosexual couples in France to both marry and adopt children, has already been affirmed by French President François Hollande and the two houses of French parliament, the National Assembly and Senate. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, a majority of French voters support marriage rights for gay couples but are more divided on the question of gay adoption. 

Protests
The upper house of French parliament, the Senate, voted 179-to-157 to affirm the resolution that would legally enshrine marriage and adoption rights and put France one step closer to joining the 12 nations around the globe where gay marriage is universally recognized. Uruguay joined that list in March 2013, and New Zealand will likely be the thirteenth pending royal affirmation of legislative action finalized in mid April 2013. Though second reading in the National Assembly was initially scheduled for May of 2013, it was moved forward to April 23, notes The Telegraph.

Protests that turned violent erupted throughout France in March as those who opposed the bill in the majority Roman Catholic country met face-to-face with adamant supporters of the legislation. Riot police in Paris were forced to push back crowds that jumped blockades and attempted to spill into the landmark shopping area, the Champs-Elysees, reports NBC. As more protestors rushed into the area, which had been restricted due to the sensitivity of the issue and the large volume of  travelers it attracts, officers in riot gear fired multiple rounds of tear gas into the crowd. 

Undeterred, some opponents of the legislation continued marching toward the presidential palace, shouting "Hollande, Resignation," and singing the French national anthem, says the source. 

Four detained in connection with attack
As the final vote in the National Assembly draws near, clashes between backers and opposers are becoming violent.  

The Associated Press reports that four suspects are in custody this morning under suspicion of attacking patrons at a gay bar in Lile April 17. The men are suspected of harassing patrons, punching the bar manager and damaging property within the bar. These arrests followed detention of several opposition protestors in Paris on the same day, who were accused of fighting police and vandalizing cars along the Champs-Elysees.

President Hollande has said he respect the right to protest, but as called for an end to the violence. 

Those with friends and family in France can pick up an international calling card and discuss the proposed law or the protests of it. 

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