(Paris) The leading contender for the Socialist
Party nomination to run for President in 2007 has come out in favor of same-sex
"Opening up marriage to same-sex couples is
needed in the name of equality, visibility and respect," Segolene Royal
tells the LGBT publication Tetu in this week's edition. She said that if her
party forms the next government she will introduce a gay marriage bill.
"It is essential that everybody has equal
rights and dignities and the chance to express themselves freely."
Royal also told the publication that same-sex
couples should be allowed to adopt.
She becomes the first high ranking politician in
France to support both marriage and adoption rights for gay and lesbian couples.
In the past Royal has supported limited partner benefits but opposed adoption.
Public opinion polls show she has wide support
for the nomination but she has been controversial.
Royal has four children but has never wed their
father, Socialist Party leader Francois Hollande. Royal has labeled marriage a
President Jacques Chirac's ruling conservative
UMP party opposes both gay marriage and adoption and only begrudgingly agreed
several years ago to grant limited rights to gay and lesbian
In 2004 the mayor of a small community in
southwestern France performed France's first gay marriage but it was quickly
annulled by the government in Paris.
The UMP was just as quick Monday to pounce on
Royal's support for gay marriage reiterating the government's opposition to
But French public opinion appears to be with
Royal. A poll released earlier this month shows that about 60 percent of
the population favors same-sex marriage.