Tens of thousands of people marched through Paris on Sunday in support of the government's plan to legalize gay marriage and adoption - but the numbers fell well short of a protest against the plans a couple of weeks ago, organized by the Catholic Church and the right-wing opposition. Gay (and heterosexual) couples in France can currently form civil partnerships, known as PACS.
Elsewhere in Europe the situation is mixed. The Netherlands became the first country in the world to extend marriage laws to include same-sex couples, following a recommendation by a special commission appointed to investigate the issue in 1995. A law enabling gay couples to marry took effect back in April 2001.
Neighboring Belgium followed suit by legalizing same-sex marriages in June 2003. Originally, foreign same-sex couples were only allowed to marry if their country of origin also permitted the union. However, as of October 2004, any couple can marry if at least one of the spouses has lived in the country for more than three months. A 2006 law also enabled gay and lesbian couples to adopt children.
Under President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's socialist government, Spain became the third country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage in July, 2005 - despite, like France, being a nation with strongly Catholic roots. In Portugal, too, gay couples have been allowed to marry since January 2010.
Iceland's Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir and her partner Jonina Leosdottir were among the first to take advantage of new laws introduced in 2010 by the Social Democratic/Left-Green coalition. Sigurdardottir became the world's first openly lesbian head of government when she took office in February 2009.
Countries across Scandinavia also have progressive laws when it comes to gay rights. Same-sex marriage was legalized in Sweden in 2009 - gay and lesbian couples had already been allowed to enter into civil partnerships. Norway passed a gender neutral marriage bill in 2008. Gay couples have also been allowed to marry in Denmark since summer 2012. Finland has plans to introduce similar legislation.
This image shows gay rights activists in the 1980s - things have come far since then, but British campaigners are still fighting for equal marriage. Since 2005 same-sex couples have been allowed to enter into civil partnerships in the UK, which provide a similar legal status to that of marriage. But there is currently a debate about whether gay couples should be allowed to marry in churches.
Since August 1, 2001 Germany has allowed registered partnerships for same-sex couples. These unions currently provide all the rights of marriage except joint adoption and full tax benefits. In January this year, a poll conducted by YouGov found that 66 percent of Germans support same-sex marriage. Less than a quarter of the population are opposed to the idea.
But the situation is different in parts of eastern Europe, where negative attitudes towards gay and lesbian couples are more entrenched in society. Here in Latvia, as in Lithuania, Poland and elsewhere, gay couples are not eligible to the same legal protection as heterosexual couples; most of the population is opposed to gay marriage.
The Russian parliament recently backed a ban on "gay propaganda" among children - similar to a law banning the promotion of homosexuality in cities like St Petersburg (pictured here). The new law means that events promoting gay rights would be banned across Russia, and the organizers fined. Needless to say, there is currently no legal recognition for same-sex couples in Russia.
France is currently having a heated debate about whether or not to legalize same-sex marriage. But what's the situation like elsewhere in Europe and which countries are leading the way in terms of gay rights?