Marriage equality gains momentum internationally

In a historic month for the equal rights movement, New Zealand, France and Uruguay have passed same-sex marriage bills, and Rhode Island is set to become the tenth state in the United States to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage. After two hours of at times emotional and at times comical debate, the New Zealandbill was voted in 77 to 44, and was met with applause and cheers in the public gallery. Those who had come to witness the event then broke into a traditional Maori love song, Pokarekare Ane, often played at national ceremonies.

MPs voting in favour of the bill reminded their peers that this bill was about nothing more than recognising equal rights for all members of society, and the bill’s sponsor, Louisa Wall, thanked the wide array of groups and individuals who had supported the bill and praised the dignified manner in which the gay community had handled the debate.

InFrance, the bill sponsored by Mr Hollande, the French president, allows for same-sex marriage and adoption by same-sex couples. It was voted in 331 to 225, despite months of debates and protests. Homophobic violence has been on the rise with a handful of attacks on gay couples being reported. Nevertheless, members of parliament from the centre and right broke with party lines to support the bill.

Opposition to the new legislation remains strong however, and violent protests have taken place since the vote, with the main focus of the protest being adoption by gay couples. The protesters claim that they must protect the most vulnerable members of society from the unjust law.

TheUnionfor a Popular Movement, the country’s main opposition party from the centre-right, has announced that they would challenge the new law before the country’s Constitutional Council, though the ruling Socialist party stated that the new legislation had been carefully worded to avoid any “legal fragility”.

Backers of the bill were proud to see it passed with a large margin, stating that it was a historic moment of victory for equality and love. A strong majority of the French public has consistently supported same-sex marriage, though the same does not hold true in regards to same-sex adoption, where the polls have been more evenly split.