Ahead of the French Parliament’s final vote on equal marriage, a couple are planning to wed in the southern city of Montpellier, in a ceremony which is set to prove to be symbolic, in the face of strong opposition to equal marriage.

France’s National Assembly will hold its final, and decisive vote on the bill to allow equal marriage and adoption, on Tuesday 23 April, and if it passes the final and crucial vote, it will go to the Constitutional Council, which will review its constitutionality.

If it is passed by the council, it will be signed into law by President Francois Hollande before being published in the Official Journal of the French Republic. 

Vincent Autin, a 40-year-old PR firm head, and his partner Bruno, a 29-year-old government worker, who declined to give his surname, told the AFP that they were aware of the potential public impact of the ceremony they have planned.

“We will make this wedding an occasion for everyone. It will be public, open to all activists, to heads of French and international [gay lobby] groups, to the press,” Vincent said.

He went on to say “There will also be moments of love.” The couple have been together for more than five years.

They said that their goal was not only to marry, but eventually to start a family.

“The law will allow that, but we’re very aware that we won’t have the child we both want right away. Mentalities have to change. And of course the path to adoption is long, even for straight people,” Vincent continued.

On Friday, the lower house of French National Assembly almost mirrored violent protests outside, around the issue of equal marriage, as punches were thrown as MPs came to the end of the capped 25-hour debate around the bill.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators also took to the streets wearing blue and pink to march on Paris in opposition to equal marriage yesterday.

The marchers, estimated at 50,000, walked through Montparnasse, while thousands of counter-protesters showed their support for marriage equality legislation at a smaller gathering in Bastille Square.

On Friday, the lower house of French National Assembly almost mirrored violent protests outside, as punches were reportedly thrown in a scuffle, which lasted several minutes. One minister said he had never experienced such an incident in his 30 years in the lower house.

Montpellier is known as the “French San Francisco”, because of its large gay community.