55% of British people are in favour of same sex marriage. Adoption, however, is a rather more controversial matter.
David Cameron’s move to legalise same sex marriage in the UK has provoked some contrasting reactions within British society.
Since marriage between same sex couples was first legalised in the Netherlands in 2001, the whole of Europe has witnessed outbursts of passion and dispute.
Protests, proposals, laws and court battles are just a few examples of this reality, as well as the ever present issue of adoption and the contrary position held by the Church and the extreme right-wing.
However, despite the British public’s majority vote in favour of allowing same sex marriage, the measure has found opposition in certain sectors of the population.
In the case of the Anglican Church, the official position is that gay marriage will “alter the intrinsic nature of marriage as the union of a man and a woman”. By the same means, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, reaffirmed his opposition to the law as he took his place in office.
Furthermore, these institutions are not alone in opposing the law. Despite being considered as countries that is open to different definitions of sexuality, 4,200 cases of homophobic crime have been registered by the Home Office in England and Wales.
The situation in Europe
While votes were being cast on the proposal in London, the French National Assembly was similarly debating a law headed by government to legalise same sex marriage. Consequently, the past few weeks in Europe have been especially tense in reference to this issue.
The law forms part of a proposal set out by President François Hollande during the last French presidential campaign and was passed by the Assembly with 329 votes in favour and 229 against. Nonetheless, final approval from the Senate will remain pending until the 2nd of April.
Despite mass support for the LGBT collective, the streets of Paris were also witness to a protest against the so-called “marriage for all” proposal, bringing together, according to the French police, an impressive 340,000 people.
Behind all this controversy, and the disputes over whether homosexuals have to right to marry or not, England and France are waiting for same sex marriage to become a reality.
Although accustomed to being leaders on the European stage in other sectors, the legislators are not at the vanguard of this particular battle. Eight other countries already consider marriage between same sex couples to be legal.
This is the case for the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland and Denmark, as well as other non-European countries such as Canada, Argentina, South Africa and some states in the US.
According to the last Eurobarometer, 44% of the European Union is in favour of homosexual marriage. Despite this, the situation on the continent differs substantially depending on the individual country.
Whilst the Netherlands (82%), Sweden (71%), Spain (66%) and Germany (52%) have a majority in favour, other countries such as Italy (32%), Greece (15%) and countries in Eastern Europe, except the Czech Republic (52%), have a minority of supporters.
According to YouGov, 55% of the United Kingdom would be in favour of permitting people of the same sex to marry, with a third of the British population accepting Civil Partnerships but not the legalisation of marriage. All considered, 63% think that David Cameron’s proposal to allow same sex marriage is only current for political reasons, not because it is the right thing to do.
The laws that regulate these new marriages are contemplating the possibility of adoption, in the same way that heterosexuals are permitted.
With regards to this, the defence put forward by many that oppose the new law is that opposition not a homophobic movement, but a means to protect the rights of children.
There is no direct relationship between the sexual orientation of the parent and the emotional, psychological and behavioural development of the child.
Despite this, public opinion will not yet accept the possibility of adoption. According to the Eurobarometer, 44% of Europeans are in favour of same sex marriage, although this number falls to only 32% in the case of also permitting adoption.
Whilst the countries that allow same sex marriage are more inclined to accept adoption, each country must be considered individually. We are talking about, definitively, a reality which will advance the make-up of our society.
Despite making our first steps toward adoption, we still have a long way to go.