FranceThe French Senate has approved Section 1 of a marriage equality bill – which removes the requirement of different genders as a condition of the right to marry – in a vote of 179 to 157 after more than 10 hours of debate.

Last month, a Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill, which also allows gay couples to adopt. French Lower House MPs approved it in February with 329-229 votes in favour.

There are several more sections of the bill to be voted on by the Senate, but with the most significant section passed with no amendments for the National Assembly to approve, the measure is now all but assured to be made law.

Polls show most French people support legalising gay marriage, but there have been rallies involving hundreds of thousands of people for and against the issue in France this year.

In the days leading up to the most recent vote, French gay rights groups claimed there had been a rise in homophobic incidents while debate was under way on the issue.

On Monday, Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoë  slammed a “brutal homophobic attack” on a gay couple.

Dutch national Wilfred de Bruijn and his partner Olivier were badly beaten while they walked arm in arm on a Paris street on Sunday night, French news service RFI reports.

“Given the abuses that took place either through demonstrations of violence in the street [or] by verbal outbursts in the chamber, the vote on this article marks a victory for the fight against homophobia,” Socialist Party Senate president François Rebsamen said in a statement after the vote concluded on Tuesday.

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