France's first gay marriage hits legal rocks

11th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

BORDEAUX, France, June 11 (AFP) - The state prosecutor in the French city of Bordeaux on Friday asked a court to nullify France's first gay wedding last week that a mayor carried out in defiance of warnings from authorities.

BORDEAUX, France, June 11 (AFP) - The state prosecutor in the French city of Bordeaux on Friday asked a court to nullify France's first gay wedding last week that a mayor carried out in defiance of warnings from authorities.

Officials said the chief judge of the Bordeaux court would soon fix a date to hear the matter, and that he would order the shopkeeper and male nurse who married to appear.

Bertrand Charpentier, 31, and Stephane Chapin, 34, were wedded in a ceremony in the Bordeaux suburb of Begles on June 5 by the local mayor, Noel Mamere, who is also a leading figure in the opposition Green party.

They have vowed to take their case before the European Court of Human Rights if the marriage is declared invalid, as the conservative government has threatened.

Their union generated intense attention in France, where a civil contract known as PACS has since 1999 permitted couples - including same-sex ones - to attain some of the legal rights of marriage, but not others, notably those dealing with taxes and inheritance.

President Jacques Chirac and his government have argued that French law stipulates a wedding can only be between a man and a woman, and have threatened to temporarily suspend Mamere as mayor.

But gay rights supporters argue the text is not that clear and, in any case, the country should adapt to new social realities.

Although homosexual partnerships are recognised to varying degrees in several European countries, Belgium and the Netherlands are the only two states that recognise same-sex marriages.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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