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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 June, 2005, 09:26 GMT 10:26 UK
Canadian MPs back gay marriages
Antony Porcino (left) and Tom Graff get married in Vancouver. File photo
There are some 34,000 same sex couples in Canada
Canada's parliament has approved a bill to legalise same-sex marriage, despite opposition from conservative MPs.

The bill was supported by 158 lawmakers in the 308-seat House of Commons, with 133 MPs voting against.

It is expected to win Senate approval and become law by July, making Canada the third country after the Netherlands and Belgium to allow gay marriages.

Gay marriage is already legal in eight of 10 provinces and one of Canada's three territories.

'Proud day'

The legislation that will allow gay marriage nationwide was drafted by Prime Minister Paul Martin's Liberal minority government.

This is a victory for Canadian values
Alex Munter
Canadians for Equal Marriage

The issue split the Liberal party, with the Cabinet minister for economic development in Ontario, Joe Comuzzi, resigning over the bill on Tuesday.

But supported by most members of the Liberals, the Bloc Quebecois and other allies, the legislation passed easily.

"We are a nation of minorities and in a nation of minorities, it is important that you don't cherry pick rights. A right is a right and that is what this vote tonight is all about," Mr Martin said before the vote.

The national co-ordinator of Canadians for Equal Marriage, Alex Munter, had said the bill's approval would be "a victory for Canadian values".

"I think this is going to be a proud and exciting day to be a Canadian because we are... affirming to the world that we are a country that is open, inclusive and welcoming," he said.

Fierce opposition

Canada's opposition Conservative Party and religious groups have been lobbying against the bill.

I fear radical social change thrust upon a nation that is not asking for it
Charles McVety
Defend Marriage Canada

The Conservative leader, Stephen Harper, said earlier he would be defending the traditional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.

The legislation puts Canada on a quite different course to its powerful neighbour to the south.

In the US, President George W Bush is seeking a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Hundreds of foreigners, including Americans and Israelis, have gone to Canada for civil unions since gay marriage was first allowed in some provinces in 2003.

See a same sex marriage taking place

Canadian gay marriage bill: Your views
29 Jun 05 |  Have Your Say
Gay marriage around the globe
09 Dec 04 |  Americas
Canada debates same-sex marriage
01 Feb 05 |  Americas
Canada 'can permit gay marriage'
09 Dec 04 |  Americas
Court approves first gay divorce
15 Sep 04 |  Americas
Close vote on Canada gay marriage
17 Sep 03 |  Americas

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