Tuesday 22 October 2019

France holds its first gay wedding

Vincent Autin and Bruno Boileau exchange vows at Montpelier City Hall (AP)
Vincent Autin and Bruno Boileau exchange vows at Montpelier City Hall (AP)

France's first gay couple to marry have said "oui" in a politically charged ceremony in Montpellier. The two men sealed the deal with a lengthy kiss.

Hundreds of invited guests, including a government minister, gathered for the ceremony, which was broadcast live to the country. Hundreds more flocked to the square outside the building.

Montpellier Mayor Helene Mandroux, who officiated, called the law that legalised gay marriage "a stage in the modernization of our country."

Earlier Vincent Autin and his partner Bruno Boileau said their marriage will be a symbol of the progress of gay rights in their country.

"Obviously we are honoured because as we said it is a symbol for the country, it is a big step that France is taking, so we are honoured by this," Mr Boileau told a press conference.

The wedding comes after six months of national debates and protests that flooded the streets of Paris, over a Bill that legalised marriage and adoption for same-sex couples.

When president Francois Hollande promised to legalise gay marriage, it was seen as relatively uncontroversial. But the issue became a touchstone as his popularity has sunk to unprecedented lows, largely over France's ailing economy.

"What has really been the most difficult thing for us, I think, individually, is to feel being so much under attack for who we are," said Mr Autin, referring to the opposition to the bill from the anti-gay marriage movement.

On Sunday, tens of thousands of people protested against the new gay marriage law in Paris. Police estimated that about 150-thousand people took part in the demonstration, but march organisers claimed on their Twitter account that more than a million people were there.

France is the 14th country to recognise gay marriages.

PA Media

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