France's first gay marriage declared null in advance

28th April 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, April 28 (AFP) - A planned wedding billed to be France's first gay marriage would be null and void if it goes ahead, Justice Minister Dominique Perben said Wednesday in a move that could trigger an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

PARIS, April 28 (AFP) - A planned wedding billed to be France's first gay marriage would be null and void if it goes ahead, Justice Minister Dominique Perben said Wednesday in a move that could trigger an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

"This marriage will be entirely and simply null, since it is contrary to the state of law," Perben told the French daily Le Figaro in reference to the wedding announced last week by a leading opposition politician.

Noel Mamere, a parliamentary deputy with the Greens Party and a mayor of a southwestern town near Bordeaux, said he would celebrate the same-sex union between two men on June 5 in support of equal rights in France.

He has said that nothing in the French statutes specifies that marriages have to be exclusively between a man and a woman, and has threatened to take any challenge to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.

But Perben said public prosecutors would seek to have the marriage blocked before the ceremony or annulled afterward.

"To argue that sexual difference between spouses is not written into the civil code is to lie," Perben said.

He cited a law that that says a public official celebrating a wedding hears from "the two parties, one after the other, the declaration that they want to take each other for husband and wife".

He also argued that the European Convention on Human Rights defined marriage as a union of a man and a woman.

The Green Party reacted Wednesday by accusing the government of homophobia and throwing its support behind Mamere's "political, symbolic act".

"The virulence of (Perben's) remarks reveals the particularly backward and stunted views of the (ruling center-right) UMP party concerning necessary social advances", Green spokesman Yann Wehrling said in a statement.

Perben told Le Figaro that Mamere, a former presidential candidate, "has the obligation to uphold and respect the law, not to promote his own opinions".

The deputy and mayor risked legal action if he pushed on with the wedding, the minister added.

"I think it would be very wise if he changed his mind before then. Everyone, himself included, knows that his method would go against the law," Perben said.

Although the Netherlands and Belgium are the only European countries to allow same-sex civil marriages, France and several other states allow civil unions for both heterosexual and homosexual couples.

France's Civil Solidarity Pact (known as PACS) was introduced in 1999 and gives all adult couples, including homosexual ones, many of the same fiscal and social rights as married partners.

Two other local politicians have said they are ready to follow Mamere's example.

One of them, Christophe Girard, is a deputy to the Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe, who is gay but has declined to back Mamere's move, arguing that "we are not going to settle the problem by organizing three high-profile gay marriages."

Delanoe, a Socialist, said the question of same-sex marriages was "a little bit less urgent than the question of parenting".

Perben said the government had no plans to change the law, calling the issue a concern only for a "tiny minority, including for those on the left and for the majority of homosexual associations".

In a statement issued Thursday, the gay and lesbian group Inter-LGBT rejected Perben's comments, saying the minister "is not qualified to say what 'most homosexual associations' think."

Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin is expected to back Perben's view on same-sex marriages on Thursday, in a speech commemorating the bicentenary of the French civil code.

© AFP

                                              Subject: French news

 

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