The media are awaiting the beginning of France’s first same-sex wedding in Montpellier, which is set to take place in less than an hour, as guests arrive, bags are checked, and security is on high alert.
Hélène Mandroux, the Socialist mayor and same-sex marriage advocate, who is to perform the ceremony this afternoon, received threats, including by telephone, when one man told her to “get bodyguards”.
The couple, Vincent Autin, a 40-year-old PR firm head, and his partner Bruno Boileau , a 29-year-old government worker, told the AFP that they were aware of the potential public impact of the ceremony.
The couple have been together for over five years, and will wed at 17:50 local time in the town hall. The ceremony was moved to a larger room, as the couple’s 200 friends and family, as well as 300 guests and 150 journalists, and government representatives, would not have fit in the regular function room.
The ceremony is expected to be a large spectacle, as two giant pink cakes were seen being delivered to the venue earlier today, which were covered in pink and white icing, lace and popular slinkie toys.
The ceremony is being broadcast on the internet at http://www.montpellier.fr/, despite an earlier decision not to project it onto a screen outside the town hall, for security reasons.
Bags are checked by security as guests arrive at the town hall (Image: Twitter)
Following months of, sometimes violent, protests, and a substantial rise in homophobic attacks, French President Hollande signed the law making France the fourteenth country in the world to allow equal marriage, two weeks ago.
Marriage equality opponents had hoped that challenging the bill before the Constitutional Council would scupper the bill after months of debate and protest.
On Sunday, at the end of a day of tense, but relatively peaceful anti-equal marriage protests, which saw tens of thousands take to the streets of Paris, riot police clashed with hundreds of violent demonstrators.