The French parliament passed legislation Tuesday legalizing same-sex marriage and granting the right of adoption to gays and lesbians, dpa reported.
Of the 577 members of the National Assembly, 329 voted in favour of the bill and 229 against. It is now scheduled to be considered in April by the Senate, where passage is expected to be easily won with the backing of Socialist and other left-wing lawmakers.
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said he was "proud" of the bill, calling it "part of a long line of Republican reforms for equality and against discrimination." The Assembly began debating the hotly contested government proposal in January. It passed a key article redefining marriage as being between any two people in early February, clearing the way for Tuesday's vote on the so-called "Marriage for All" bill.
It is a signature piece of legislation for Socialist President Francois Hollande, who promised during election campaigning last year to follow the lead of the Netherlands, Spain and several other European countries by giving gays and lesbians full marriage rights.
But the bill - which also gives gay couples the same adoption and inheritance rights as heterosexuals - encountered stronger-than-expected opposition, particularly in rural areas.
Around 340,000 people demonstrated against the bill in Paris on January 13, the largest rally in the country in more than a decade.
It has also been staunchly opposed by conservative opposition politicians, who attached more than 5,000 amendments to the bill as a delay tactic.