Debate over same-sex marriage heats up in France

UPM deputy accuses left of 'murdering children'

18 April, 17:57

    Protest against same-sex marriage bill in Paris Protest against same-sex marriage bill in Paris

    (ANSAmed) - PARIS - Tension hangs ever thicker in the air in France as the draft law on same-sex marriage nears official adoption. Protests are staged more frequently with homophobic incidents occurring, such as Wednesday's attack on a gay nightclub in Lille. Sharper tones are meanwhile being heard in Parliament as well. ''I accuse you, ladies and gentlemen of the left,'' said Philippe Cochet of the center-right UPM, ''of murdering children. It is a scandal'', in reference to the draft law on gay marriage under debate in the National Assembly. His words sparked a wave of protest and forced the chamber's speaker, Calude Bartolone, to suspend the session. When he returned to Parliament, Cochet addressed all MPs in admitting that ''the term was not appropriate''.

    ''However, there is still harm done'' to children's lives, he said. Bartolone instead tried to restore calm, admonishing them to choose their words carefully, saying that ''in seeking to injure each other, we may injure the entire Republic''. Socialist Bernard Roman complained that the UMP had failed to firmly condemn Cochet's words. Not only did the remarks spark indignation among several left-wing MPs, they also led government spokesman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem to write on Twitter that ''MP Philippe Cochet's words in front of the Parliament are unacceptable. The opposition has surpassed all limits''. Tension continues to rise in the streets as well. President Francois Hollande spoke out on Thursday morning against recent ''homophobic'' and ''violent'' actions, after the attack at the Lille gay bar Vice-Versa and the scuffles on Wednesday evening on the fringes of a demonstration of those opposing the draft law on gay marriage. ''No protest should degenerate'' to such an extent, he said.

    ''The law and the Parliament must be respected, universal suffrage must be respected'', noting that he had made his intentions on the issue clear in his election campaign. Shortly before, Interior Minister Manuel Valls had condemned the ''homophobic'' attack in Lille. ''These acts of violence are unacceptable,'' he said, ''and those responsible for them must be punished to the full extent of the law.'' Those opposing the draft law on gay marriage say they will continue their protest. Gatherings in front of the parliament are held every evening and large demonstrations are planned for April 21 and April 23, the day of the final vote in Parliament.

    They say they will continue their struggle even after the text is approved, and have scheduled another protest for May 26.


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