France's lower house of parliament rejected a gay marriage bill on Tuesday, the AFP reported.

The Socialist-sponsored measure was blocked by a 293 to 222 vote in the UMP Party-controlled National Assembly.

Opposition in the chamber was led by President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP Party. Sarkozy said he was opposed to altering the country's marriage laws.

In January, France's constitutional authority upheld the country's ban on marriage between members of the same sex, but added that it is up to parliament to create laws.

France recognizes gay and lesbian couples with civil partnerships, a union that confers fewer rights than marriage. France, the UK and Germany are among Europe's most powerful – and in many ways liberal – nations yet to adopt gay marriage.

A recent Canal Plus TV poll found a majority (58%) of respondents favor the institution, up six percentage points since 2006.

Earlier this month, a lesbian couple became the first gay couple to marry in France. The women were able to circumvent the country's ban because one of them is a transgender woman who is still, legally, a man. The women called their marriage a “symbolic” victory.