Minister declares planned first French gay marriage 'null'
April 29, 2004
PARIS — 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.
Justice Minister Dominique
Photo - AFP
"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
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
He also argued that the European Convention on Human Rights
defined marriage as a union of a man and a woman.
Perben said Mamere, who was 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 said.
"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 legalize homosexual civil marriage, France and several
other states allow civil unions for heterosexual and homosexual
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.
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. – Sapa-AFP
French gay marriage plan revives gay rights debate [26/04/2004]