Timeline: Marriage and homosexual rights in France

Sun Jan 13, 2013 9:38am EST

(Reuters) - Marchers filed through the French capital on Sunday to protest against President Francois Hollande's plan to legalize gay marriage and adoption.

Here is a timeline on marriage and the rights of homosexuals in France.

1791 - Following the French Revolution, the penal code is amended to decriminalize homosexual acts. But social disapproval in the traditionally Catholic country remains strong until recent years.

1995 - Saint Nazaire becomes the first city to allow homosexuals to register as concubines, a legal concept allowing limited shared rights for unmarried couples living together.

1999 - The National Assembly approves "civil solidarity pacts" (PACS) after heated debates but few protests. Open to all, they provide many tax breaks granted to married couples in joint tax returns. The PACS is a contract certified by a court clerk, without a civil wedding ceremony, and can be terminated in writing to the court. Partners retain their assets separately and there is no duty to provide for a former partner.

2001 - Bertrand Delanoe, a Socialist who was one of the first French politicians to publicly declare his homosexuality, is elected mayor of Paris. Since then, an openly gay man and an openly bisexual man serve as culture ministers in conservative national governments.

2004 - Two men are married by the mayor of Begles near Bordeaux in France's first same-sex marriage. A court later declares their union null and void because the civil code indicates that marriage involves a man and a woman.

2006 - A parliamentary report recommends expanding taxation, property and succession rights in civil unions but keeping bans on marriage, adoption and assisted reproduction. It maintains that extending those rights to gay couples would violate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which France has signed. No action is taken on this report.

2010 - Originally seen as a kind of gay union, the PACS gradually morphs into "marriage lite" for heterosexuals. In 2010, there are 251,654 heterosexual marriages and 205,558 civil unions, 94 percent of them between heterosexuals. The term "pacsé" enters into current usage to describe someone in this status between single and married.

2012 - Francois Hollande includes gay marriage as one of 60 campaign promises but it does not figure highly in debates for the presidential election in May. In November, the cabinet approves a draft law allowing same-sex marriage with adoption rights that will be presented to parliament on January 29

2013 - On January 13, Catholics, conservatives, Muslims, evangelicals and homosexuals opposed to same-sex marriage march in Paris in the first major street protest against President Francois Hollande.

(Reporting by Tom Heneghan; Editing by Tom Pfeiffer)

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