First same-sex wedding will go ahead in Montpellier under tight security after protests against reform
LAST UPDATED AT 10:34 ON WED 29 MAY 2013
TWO French men, Vincent Autin and Bruno Boileau, will marry in the city of Montpellier today, the first same-sex couple to tie the knot under a reform that has sparked widespread protest.
Autin, 40, and Boileau, 29, were the first gay couple to apply to marry after President Francois Hollande pushed through a law granting equal marriage and adoption rights to same-sex couples. The ceremony, which will be attended by 200 friends and family, 300 guests from activist associations and 130 journalists, has been described by sections of the press as France's "marriage of the century".
The same-sex marriage reform, which became law on 23 April, has caused outrage and violent protests by opponents. Last Sunday 150,000 people took to the streets of Paris to protest against the law, and the suicide of a 78-year-old man in Notre Dame Cathedral last week is believed to be motivated, in part, by the reform.
Montpellier, in southern France, describes itself as the nation's most "gay-friendly place". But with tensions still running high, authorities have been forced to beef up security and make changes to the ceremony, which is scheduled to start at 5.30pm. Plans to broadcast the event on a large screen in the plaza outside the city hall, and hand out free drinks to passers-by wanting to toast the couple, have been cancelled due to "fears that hardline opponents of gay marriage could sour the proceedings", Reuters reports.
Unwilling to turn the plaza into a "high-security area", the council has decided to stream images of the ceremony on its website instead.
Autin and Boileau know their marriage will be scrutinised intensely by the media. "This is not about Vincent and Bruno, this is about equality under the law, this for all the people who have fought for the right to say 'I do'," Autin told Euronews.
The couple, who have been together for six years, met on a fan site dedicated to the pop singer Christophe Willem, who had emerged from the TV show La Nouvelle Star, an equivalent of Britain's Got Talent, The Guardian reports. Boileau had not been out with a man prior to meeting Aubin, who is a gay rights activist and works for the Montpellier tourist office.
The couple have said they want to adopt a child after they are married. ·