The French Senate will debate the country’s proposed same-sex marriage bill today.

The lower house approved the legislation in February – with 329 Assembly Members voting in favour of the bill and 229 against – a majority of 100 votes.

In March, around 300,000 same-sex marriage opponents took part in a vociferous rally in Paris; however, similar large-scale marches in support of France’s pending equal marriage bill have also taken place in the past year as well.

Extending the right to marry and adopt to same-sex couples in France was one of President Francois Hollande’s electoral pledges.

Mr Hollande’s government gave its formal approval to the bill last November.

The embattled French leader’s socialist party, whose popularity has plunged since taking office, only has a slim majority in the Senate.

The French Senate will debate the bill until 12 April.

A law legalising civil unions was introduced in France under a previous Socialist government in 1999.

Known in France as the PACS (pacte civil de solidarite), the civil union agreement can be entered into by gay or straight couples and confers many but not all of the rights of marriage.

Opinion polls suggest a majority of French people still support equal marriage but their numbers have fallen in recent weeks – possibly in light of the contentious nature of the debate by the opponents.