London: The French National Assembly has approved a law allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt children.
After days of intense debate, the bill was passed by 329 votes to 229. It must now win final approval in the Senate.
The `Marriage for All` bill was backed by President Francois Hollande`s Socialists and other left-wing MPs, but it was opposed by many in the opposition conservative UMP and provoked months of mass protests and counter-protests, the BBC reports.
According to the report, the Senate, which is also dominated by the Socialists and their allies, is believed to back the measure, which will become a law by May or June.
France would then join 11 other countries where same-sex marriage is legal.
The marriage law is seen as France`s most important social reform since the abolition of the death penalty in 1981, the report said.
The law has, however, provoked intense opposition from the Catholic Church, as well as from many French Muslims, who see it as an attack on the traditional family, it added.