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France could stage its first gay marriages as early as June after parliament gave its final approval to the country’s most contested social legislation for decades.

Some of the headlines focused on the main opposition party’s decision to challenge the new law – which gives homosexual couples the right to marry and adopt children – before the highest court, the Constitutional Council. It has a month to decide.

Reflecting the country as a whole, opinions on the streets of Paris were divided.

“I’m thrilled, happy for everyone this concerns. It was time that we took the same position as northern countries,” said Marie-Claire Thiennot, a public relations director.

“I think we must oppose firmly but calmly this change to civilisation, as I believe that nothing is definitive yet,” said Laurent Arthaud, an accountant.

Amid furious opposition to the law that has brought violent protests, the president appealed for calm.

“I seek and I call on everyone to seek peace. That means understanding and respect. Because everything now needs to be concentrated on and devoted to what is essential: the economic success of our country and national cohesion,” said François Hollande.

After the vote opponents of gay marriage again clashed violently with police on Tuesday night, in Paris near the National Assembly, and in Lyon. Other cities saw peaceful protests.

The law has mobilised the right, from moderates to neo-Nazis. Polls suggest most French people continue to back same-sex marriage.

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