First step to annul French marriage taken

June 08, 2004

French Green party deputy Noel Mamere (L) listens to deputy Martine Billard 07 June 2004 at the parliament in Paris during the presentation of a proposed bill on homosexual marriage
Photo - AFP
BORDEAUX, France — The state prosecutor on Monday began an effort to annul the marriage of a male homosexual couple, two days after they exchanged wedding vows in the first such union in France.

But one of the lawyers for the two men, Stephane Chapin and Bertrand Charpentier, said he would take the matter to the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.

Prosecutor Bertrand de Loze asked to have the couple appear in court. The date was not set.

The gay couple was married Saturday in the town of Begles, near Bordeaux by the town mayor, Noel Mamere, a Green party lawmaker known as a political provocateur.

Justice Minister Dominique Perben said hours after the marriage that the Bordeaux court would be petitioned to declare it null.

Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin said Mamere would be sanctioned.

"We're prepared to plead on the form and on the fundamentals, as far as the European Court of Human Rights," said an attorney for the couple, Remy Giemza.

To charges that the couple took a fictive address in Begles so that Mamere could perform the ceremony, the attorney said that this was not so. "The lease was signed in January," he said.

Mamere said on Saturday that his decision to go ahead with the marriage despite numerous warnings from authorities was meant to be a step to end discrimination of all kinds, including of sexual orientation.

Mamere risks a month's suspension from his post as mayor and a fine of up to euro1,504.50 (US$1,835.50), according to the Justice Ministry and the prime minister's office. The Cabinet could take the matter further and issue a decree revoking the title of mayor, but officials have stressed that such a move is rare. – Sapa-AP

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French govt moves to punish mayor over gay wedding [07/06/20004]



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