France's National Assembly [official website, in French] voted on Saturday to approve an article that would redefine marriage as between two people, rather than one man and one woman. The article [BBC report] is part of a larger bill [text, in French] to legalize same-sex marriage in France. The bill is one of the biggest social reforms [RIA Novosti report] proposed in France in decades, and more than 5,000 amendments have been proposed to the legislation. Debates are expected to continue for more than a week, with the bill expected to be passed by the middle of the year.
Same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] and correlated rights remain a contentious issue both within the UN and around the world. Last week Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged the Russian State Duma [official website, in Russian] to reject a proposed law that would fine any individuals or organizations, including government officials, who promote homosexuality to minors. The bill was approved by the lower house [JURIST report] earlier last week. Also last week, the Virginia Senate [official website] approved legislation [JURIST report] that would prohibit the state government from discriminating against its employees based on sexual orientation. Earlier in January, lawmakers for the Sejm of the Republic of Poland [official website] dismissed [JURIST report] three pieces of proposed legislation that would have given restricted legal rights to unmarried same-sex and opposite-sex couples by way of civil union.