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French police clash with anti-gay marriage protesters

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Police clash with protesters demonstrating against a bill that legalizes same-sex marriages, Paris, France, March 24, 2013.

French police have clashed with thousands of demonstrators in the capital, Paris, protesting against the approval of a bill that legalizes gay marriages and adoptions for same-sex couples by the country’s parliament.

Tuesday night, police fired tear gas at the angry protesters who had gathered near the National Assembly building. The protesters were hurling glass bottles, cans and metal bars to show their discontent with the parliament’s decision.

On Tuesday, the lower house of the National Assembly, where President Francois Hollande’s socialist party has an absolute majority, approved the bill with 331 votes against 225. The upper house of the French parliament had approved the first article of the bill by 179 votes against 157 on April 9.

Before becoming law, the bill must be signed by Hollande.

Meanwhile, the conservative members of the parliament, who are mainly opposed to the decision, said after the vote that they have filed a legal suit with the country’s Constitutional Council against the legislation.

A verdict from the Constitutional Council could take up to a month and opponents are hoping to build enough force during that time to pressure the president not to sign the bill.

Critics say Hollande’s campaign promise to legalize gay marriages has carried a political price, stating he should have instead focused on fixing the worsening economy and soaring unemployment.

The approval of the bill comes despite over a hundred protests during the past months against the move, including a rally on March 24, where police attacked thousands of participants with tear gas and batons.

French churches have also condemned the bill, calling gay marriages “a sham” that would “shake one of the foundations of our society.”

If the bill becomes law, France will be the 14th country in the world to approve same-sex marriages, joining countries such as Canada, New Zealand, Belgium, Portugal, Norway, Spain, and Sweden.


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