I sat in bed on Tuesday morning sipping my green tea with lemon and thinking of Gay marriage. I should explain this took place in Paris. “Ah, all is now explained,” you may say.
Well it is by the fact that on the same day France’s Parliament, the Assemblee Nationale, started the long debate to introduce Gay or same sex marriages which should become law by the middle of the year. Such laws are already the norm in Catholic Spain and Portugal. Indeed in the UK David Cameron is determined to extend the current civil partnerships to include religious services. Hence it may surprise you that in France, which Anglo Saxons have always thought to be liberal in sexual matters, the introduction of this law has caused such acrimony and division.
The left in France has always had the bragging rights when it comes to bringing people out on to the streets over a political or social issue. Hence it is no surprise that according to the police 125,000 activists demonstrated in Paris in support of the new Francois Hollande law on Sunday. The shock comes when you learn 340,000 opposed to the legislation were on the streets of the capital on Tuesday of last week.
Pierre Kanuty, who speaks on international affairs at the Parti Socialiste HQ in Paris told me, “There is a majority in Parliament to pass the law, so there is no serious risk.” Indeed, not only that but, allowing Gay marriage was part of Hollande’s left wing manifesto during last year’s elections so in introducing this controversial measure he is merely honouring one of his election pledges.
The bill is a complicated one covering Gay marriage, Gay adoption and assisted pregnancy for Gay couples. A majority of French people support Gay marriage (55 to 60 per cent), it’s around 50 – 50 on adoption and a majority oppose assisted pregnancy.
The Catholic Church is obviously at the head of the movement to oppose the law. Pierre Kanuty observed: “In a crusade mood, the right wing reopened somehow, the traditional split between the church and the non believers. The law will pass, but probably for a while, this split will last until mentalities change.”
So how about Gibraltar where a more lax regime for civil weddings has traditionally existed – although not for divorces? Are we not ready to allow Gay couples to tie the knot here too?
I know that over any one year there are a good number of Gay couples from overseas who wish to have a civil wedding in Gibraltar and are disappointed to find they are not allowed here. That obviously has a negative effect on our tourism industry. However one may ask why our own Gay couples should have to go to Spain or the UK to cement their relationship in law. I have argued here before that surely love is the determining factor and if two people love each other, want to show their commitment to each other in a civil partnership, who are we to stand in their way by denying a civil ceremony?
However in these matters I accept there are strongly held views for and against. I am pro Gay civil weddings because I believe it is a fundamental human right. Yet I am against abortion except in certain set circumstances. I see this also as a human rights issue but I believe a foetus has a right to life and it is our duty to defend the rights of the unborn child.
Hence, as in France, I accept there are people who would support Gay marriage but would be hesitant about a Gay couple’s right to adopt or to procreate via assisted pregnancy. None of these issues are simple but Gay marriages are the simplest and I believe a mature society such as Gibraltar should at least be ready to adopt such civil ceremonies in law – for the sake of our love for our fellow man and woman.