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Calls for referendum as French government prepares gay marriage law

Getty images/Peter Dazeley

Proposals to legalise gay marriage in line with François Hollande’s election promises, have sparked renewed debate over the issue in France, with some elected officials saying they would refuse to officiate at gay weddings.

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New laws would authorise homosexual and lesbian marriages and also allow such couples to adopt.

Justice Minister Christiane Taubira is to present her draft proposals at a ministers meeting on 24 October, before submitting them for parliamentary debate in 2013.

Several conservative members of parliament have called for a referendum before such laws could be passed.

“If people of the same sex love each other, it doesn’t bother me….But once you talk about changes to their civil status, then I am impacted”, said the mayor of the tiny Corsican village of Cuttoli-Corticchiato, Jean Biancucci.

On Friday, the Archbishop of Lyon, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, caused outrage when he said that legalising gay marriage would open the doors to “polygamy and incest.”

This led Paris Mayor Bertrand Delannoë, himself a homosexual, to say that the cardinal had “gone bonkers”.

Today Cardinal Barabarin tried to defuse the row, declaring that his words had been misinterpreted. But he went on to define marriage as “the union between a man and a woman, the major, fundamental basis of all civilisations, cultures and religions.”

Leaders of other religious denominations have so far said little in public about the proposals, leaving the Catholic church to lead opposition to the legislation.

According to a survey conducted by Ifop, published in mid-August, 65 per cent of French people favour a new law allowing gay marriage, while 53 per cent think homosexual couples should be allowed to adopt children.

Interior minister Manuel Valls said this week that French public opinion is ready for this “major social development.”

 

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