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    Ten years of same-sex marriage in France, in graphs



    On April 23, 2013, France became the 14th country to legalize marriage for same-sex couples. Following 136 hours of heated debate, the Assemblée Nationale passed the law known as “mariage pour tous” (mariage for all) which also allowed married same-sex couples to adopt children.

    Between the union of Vincent Autin and Bruno Boileau on May 29, 2013 – the first two men who said “yes” to each other in France – and the end of 2022, 70,658 same-sex couples have been getting married, according to data provided by the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE).

    These unions represent about 3% of all civil marriages performed over the past ten years, a stable proportion since the law was enacted.

    In 2014, 10,522 same-sex couples were united in marriage. The “first year” effect probably played a role: Some couples who had been together for a long time were waiting for this moment and wanted to make their union official as soon as possible. Thereafter, an average of 6,882 marriages of same-sex couples were celebrated each year if we are to remove the figures for the year 2020, which was marked by the cancellation, or postponement, of many marriages due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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    Marriage does not replace civil union for homosexual couples

    Before same-sex marriage, homosexual couples could only contractualize their unions with a civil union mechanism introduced in 1999.

    The legalization of marriage to homosexual couples has not replaced civil unions, which remain popular with same-sex couples and have even increased over the past ten years. In fact, there have been more civil unions than marriages among same-sex couples since 2017.

    In 2022, 10,000 homosexual couples decided to enter into a civil union. This is more than before the adoption of same-sex marriage when Insee counted an average of 5,762 civil unions of homosexual couples per year (between 1999 and 2012).

    The choice of marriage rather than civil union has mainly legal consequences. Until 2022, only marriage allowed same-sex couples to adopt.

    Marriage also allows binational couples to obtain a residence permit for the foreign spouse, and, eventually, French nationality after four years of marriage, said Gaëlle Meslay, a doctor of sociology with the National Institute of Demographic Studies (INED), adding that 16% of male couples are binational, compared to only 5% of female couples.

    The choice of marriage among homosexual couples is motivated by a “symbolic” significance, Meslay said. “Marriage brings a form of social recognition of the commitment, which legitimizes the relationship.”

    Same-sex couples marry later than heterosexual couples

    Over the past ten years, same-sex couples have generally married later than heterosexual couples. This gap is narrowing as the “catch-up” effect is not as strong as it was initially.

    Among same-sex couples, men say “yes” later than women. On average, in 2022, women married around their 39th birthday, while men passed the milestone at 44. The latter are more likely to live in large cities than female couples, according to INSEE.

    Persistent difficulties in starting a family

    The legalization of same-sex marriage has made it possible for married homosexual couples to adopt a child, whereas civil unions did not allow them to do so. But this remains limited: Since 2013, the Association of Gay and Lesbian Parents (APGL) estimates, based on its own census and the results of a number of surveys, that only 200 same-sex parenting families have succeeded in adopting (wards of the Nation and children born abroad included).

    This figure is consistent with that of a report by the French Ministry of Justice, which counted, for the year 2018, only eighteen plenary adoptions by homosexual couples. Nicolas Faget, a spokesperson for the APGL, told The world that homosexual couples faced difficulties in finding a family: The process is lengthy and adoption is still forbidden in some countries. Even in France, some homosexual couples have faced discrimination.

    It is much more common in same-sex couples for one spouse to adopt the child of the other: This involved 1,261 cases in 2018. In the context of medically assisted procreation (or assisted reproductive technology), the “social parent” can thus adopt the child of his or her spouse (who is the genitor), provided that the couple is married.

    Since the adoption of a bioethics law in 2021, and the opening of medically assisted procreation to homosexual couples, the procedure is simplified. Women in a couple must make an anticipated joint recognition, which allows them to be recognized with equal rights and obligations as mothers of the child. This procedure mainly concerns female couples.



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    For male couples, surrogacy remains formally prohibited in France. The link of filiation with both parents is often difficult to recognize because the surrogate mother’s name is usually mentioned on the foreign birth certificate, next to that of the father. Therefore, only simple adoption is possible for the same-sex spouse, because there are already two legal parents.

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    Translation of an original article published in English on; the publisher may only be liable for the French version.

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