French court upholds gay marriage ban

28th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

The French constitutional court on Friday upheld the country's gay marriage ban, saying it was in keeping with the constitution but noting that it was up to politicians to decide if it should be overturned.

The court made the ruling in response to a bid by a lesbian couple, who have four children, to marry after spending 10 years in a PACS, or civil union.

The ruling came as a TNS Sofres opinion poll said that 58 percent of French people questioned were in favour of gay marriage, which is already possible in other European states such as Belgium, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden.

The court said that two articles in the French civil code which stipulate that marriage can only be between a man and a woman were constitutional.

But on the question of whether gay couples were being discriminated against because the law treated them differently to heterosexual couples, it said "it is not up to the constitutional court to substitute its assessment for that of legislators."

The lesbian couple's lawyers are hoping the decision will now encourage lawmakers to draw up a parliamentary bill on homosexual marriage, which could make the issue a theme in next year's presidential and parliamentary elections.

The couple, Corinne Cestino and Sophie Hasslauer, currently enjoy tax benefits and other financial advantages because they are in the legally recognised civil partnership known here by its acronym PACS.

But they say they should be entitled to further benefits that marriage would bring.

"Marriage is the only solution in terms of protecting our children, sharing parental authority, settling inheritance problems and eventual custody if one of us were to die," the couple told AFP.

© 2011 AFP

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