French justice minister declares planned gay marriage void

May 06, 2004

Noel Mamere
Photo - AFP
PARIS — French Justice Minister Dominique Perben called Wednesday on judicial authorities in the southwest city of Bordeaux to block a marriage between homosexuals planned for next month.

"If such a marriage is organised there are two possibilities," he told the National Assembly.

"Either the public prosecutor objects before it takes place and the parties concerned seek a decision from the courts. Or the prosecutor demands it (the marriage) be deemed null and void after it has taken place.

"I have already asked the prosecutor to object."

Perben said that the "civil code, the law provides for marriage between two people of different sexes... I might add that the jurisprudence of the Appeal Court and of the European Court of Human Rights takes the same line."

Noel Mamere, a Green member of the French parliament and mayor of the southwestern town of Begles, has announced his intention to marry two men on June 5, bringing the issue of gay marriage to the forefront of public debate.

"It is not up to a minister to state the law but to judges," he said last week. "His intimidation does not scare me."

Mamere said the best way to fight homophobia was to stop making gender differentiation a reason for segregation.

Perben told the assembly that draft legislation introducing tougher penalties for homophobic attitudes would shortly be introduced.

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. – Sapa-AFP

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French gay marriage plan revives gay rights debate [26/04/2004]



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