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France

French Senate votes in favor of gay marriage

The French parliament has approved a bill guaranteeing homosexual couples the right to marry and adopt children. The measure was approved in the face of stiff opposition from conservative and religious groups.

The French Senate approved legislation legalizing gay marriage on Friday, two months after the National Assembly had voted in favor of the bill in its first reading.

The legislation grants homosexual couples the same marriage and adoption rights as heterosexual couples. But it has faced stiff opposition, with anti-gay marriage rallies drawing some 300,000 people in January and March. Catholic, Jewish and Muslim groups had also spoken out against the legislation.

Socialist President Francois Hollande had promised to legalize gay marriage during his campaign against conservative Nicolas Sarkozy. A handful of European countries have fully legalized same-sex marriage: Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

Both houses of France's parliament still have to vote on changes made to the bill by the Senate during a second reading.

slk/rg (AP, AFP, dpa)