The prospect of new legislation allowing gay people in France to marry and adopt has been met with opposition from religious groups as well as several mayors who have spoken out in opposition to the idea.

The latest mayor to speak out was Xavier Lemoine, of the Montefermeil suburb of Paris, who said he would have a problem with providing same-sex wedding ceremonies in his town hall:

“If the law over same sex marriage is passed I hope that it will include a clause allowing elected officials the right not to celebrate these ceremonies if it is against their conscience,” he said, reports France 24.

Back in September, Justice Minister Christiane Taubira told La Croix newspaper said that new legislation would offer equal marriage and adoption rights to gay people. It is due to be presented in the French Parliament in 2013.

Last week, Francois Lebel, the mayor of the capital’s 8th district who married former President Nicolas Sarkozy and ex-supermodel Carla Bruni, was widely condemned for likening equal marriage for gay people to incest, and pedophilia. 

Former French Prime Minister, Francois Fillon, said the debate over equal marriage would divide the french public:

“They would do well to think twice before opening this debate now,” he said. “We are going to see the French people very deeply split over this issue.”

Polls have suggested that up to two thirds of French voters would vote for equal marriage, but that the percentages on gay adoption are around 50% for and against.

Critics have said that these issues may make it difficult for the ruling Socialist Party which seeks to equalise marriage and adoption rights, since polls also suggest that it is an issue considered ‘very important’ to those opposed to the idea.

Mayors on the island of Corsica announced this week that they will refuse to carry out same-sex ceremonies, and in Le Chesnay, another suburb of Paris, local councillors passed a motion calling for a referendum on the issue.