PARIS, April 10 – RAPSI. The upper house of the French parliament, the Senate, has approved the first and most crucial article of a draft law on gay marriage which met with fierce opposition in the predominantly Catholic country, Le Figaro reported.

The Senate adopted Article 1, which allows same-sex couples to marry, by 179 votes against 157 after more than 10 hours of heated debates on Tuesday.

The discussion of the entire bill may take some time as it also contains provisions for the right of homosexual couples to adopt children and some other relevant amendments to the legislation. Each provision in the bill has to be voted on separately, according to French laws.

The lower house of the French parliament, the National Assembly, adopted the controversial bill last month.

Both houses are dominated by President Francois Hollande's Socialist Party and its allies.

Hollande made the possibility of same-sex marriage and adoption a key issue during his election campaign last year.

He could sign the bill into law as early as in summer this year, unless the conservative opposition finds a way to kill the bill or sent it for public referendum.