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France legalizes gay marriage despite angry protests

France became the 14th country in the world to allow same-sex couples to wed Tuesday, when its parliament approved a law that has sparked often violent street protests and a rise in homophobic attacks.

Lawmakers in the lower house National Assembly, where President Francois Hollande’s Socialists have an absolute majority, passed the bill by 331 votes for and 225 against.

The law also allows same-sex couples to adopt children.

“I hope people across the country will celebrate this moment,” Martin Gaillard, a 31-year-old advocate of gay marriage, told English-language news site France24.com.

Opponents of the law have held increasingly angry protests in recent weeks, including a string of confrontations with police in Paris.

They fought hard to scuttle the parliamentary bill because it also allows the use of surrogate motherhood by gay couples wanting children.

The debate is also blamed for fanning a spate of homophobic attacks, including the beating up of a 24-year-old in the southern city of Nice on Saturday, Reuters reported.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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