Anti-gay marriage Marine Le Pen through to French presidential run-off
Far-right French politician Marine Le Pen, who has pledged to abolish same-sex marriage, has won a place in the next round of the French presidential election.
Previous polling suggested that a four-way battle of the most popular candidates for the French presidency was too close to call, but now Le Pen will face off against Emmanuel Macron in a run-off.
With 97 percent of the vote counted, Mr Macron leads with 23.9 percent of the vote, with Le Pen in the runner-up spot on 21.4 percent.
The pair saw off Francois Fillon (19.9 percent) and Jean-Luc Mélenchon (19.6 percent), while Benoît Hamon trailed in fifth on 6.3 percent.
A run-off between Le Pen and Macron will take place on May 7.
France went the polls on Sunday to elect a new President to replace outgoing Socialist François Hollande.
Of the eleven candidates, four were all near-tied in polling with around 20 percent of the vote – centrist Emmanuel Macron, scandal-plagued conservative François Fillon, far-left Eurosceptic Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and the far-right Le Pen.
(L-R: Fillon, Macron, Mélenchon, Le Pen)
Of the four, only Mr Macron and Mr Mélenchon had voiced strong support for equal rights.
In a recent manifesto, Le Pen promised to create an “improved” form of civil unions in the country to “replace” the equal marriage law passed under the current Socialist government in 2013.
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The policy plan specifies that the changes would “not be retroactive”, sparing Le Pen the legal headache of trying to unpick or downgrade thousands of existing same-sex marriages, but the replacement plan would close same-sex marriage to new couples – meaning gays would once again only be able to enter civil partnerships.
It would be a return to the former status quo for France, which only permitted same-sex couples to enter a contractual form of civil union (PACS) from 1999 until 2013.
Russian government-controlled outlets previously published homophobic smears aimed at Macron, who is often touted as a ‘unity’ centrist candidate, reporting a “persistent rumour that [Macron] is secretly gay and living a ‘double life’”, and also accusing him of being in the pocket of a “very wealthy gay lobby”.
The politician, who has been married to his former school teacher Brigitte Trogneux since 2007, attacked the smears in his Têtu interview.
He said: “Two things are vile behind the implication: to say that it is not possible for a man living with an older woman to be anything other than a homosexual or a hidden gigolo is misogynistic. And it’s also homophobia. If I had been a homosexual, I would say it and I would live it.”