Francois Hollande signs France's same-sex marriage bill into law (+video)
On Friday, France became the fourteenth country to legalize same-sex marriage. A campaign promise by French President Francois Hollande, the bill was hotly contested by conservatives in France.
The bill, a campaign pledge by the Socialist president, has been for months hotly contested by many conservatives in France, where allowing gay marriage is one of the biggest social reforms since abolition of the death penalty in 1981.
Opponents have staged huge and often violent demonstrations against the bill and have called yet another protest on May 26. The leader of opposition to gay marriage, a political activist and humorist who goes under the name of Frigide Barjot, has said the protest would draw millions into the streets.
"Love has won out over hate," she said, while voicing concerns the first gay wedding could attract violent protests.
France, a predominantly Catholic country, follows 13 others including Canada, Denmark, Sweden and most recently Uruguay and New Zealand in allowing gay and lesbian couples to wed. In the United States, Washington D.C. and 12 states have legalised same-sex marriage.
Unlike former president Francois Mitterrand's abolition of the death penalty, which most French people opposed at the time, polls showed more than half the country backed gay marriage.
Nonetheless, with Hollande's popularity ratings at record lows a year into office, the law has proved costly for the president with critics saying it has distracted his attention from reviving the recession-hit economy.
After lawmakers adopted the bill in late April, opponents had sought to scupper it with a last-ditch appeal to the Constitutional Council.