Montpellier hosts France's first gay wedding

Wednesday 29 May 2013 21.26
Vincent Aubin and Bruon Boileau (centre) are the first couple to marry under France's new law
Vincent Aubin and Bruon Boileau (centre) are the first couple to marry under France's new law

Two men have married in the southern French city of Montpellier today, the first same-sex couple to wed in France.

Vincent Aubin and Bruno Boileau exchanged vows in the city hall before the mayor, relatives, friends and well-wishers.

The new law came into force this month, making France the 14th country to allow same-sex marriage.

However, it has triggered heated street protests by conservatives, Catholics and extreme right-wingers.

On Sunday, hundreds of thousands marched in the capital to demand the law's repeal.

Last week, one opponent of gay marriage killed himself at the altar of Paris's Notre Dame cathedral.

Plans to broadcast today's ceremony live on a giant TV screen in the plaza outside were abandoned, over fears that hardline opponents of gay marriage could sour the proceedings.

Officials instead opted to beam the event live online to the city council's website.

Moments before the men walked in, a smoke bomb was lobbed from outside into the perimeter of the city hall. Security guards rushed to investigate, but the wedding went ahead.

Mr Aubin, 40, and Mr Boileau, 29, met six years ago in an online forum.

They were the first gay couple to apply to marry as Socialist President Francois Hollande was pushing through the law granting equal marriage and adoption rights that go beyond existing rules for civil partnerships.

In recent months, rallies that are partly fuelled by anger at the government over other issues, such as the economy, appear to have eroded support for the gay marriage law.

It now stands at 53%, with 47% opposed, reflecting a deep national division, particularly over the adoption rights it includes.

"It's a stressful time for Victor and Bruno. There are people who will try to mark this symbolic day with words of hate," said Elodie Brun, a coordinator at the local Gay Pride Association which Mr Aubin heads.

Frigide Barjot, a pink-clad comedian who leads the anti-gay marriage movement, had urged her supporters to stay away from today's wedding.

She had expressed concern at right-wingers who have hurled bricks, bottles and firecrackers during marches.

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